L I B R.ARY
( ^/A^'//v//j I i///'u
THE AUTHOR OF " TEMPTATION, OR, A WIFE's PERIL
" THE SCHOOL FOR WIVES," ETC.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
HENRY COLBURN, PUBLISHEK,
GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
F. Shobei), Jun,, Printer to EI.UJI. Prince Albert, Rupert Street.
f^ I fear you have sold your own lands ; then to have
~" seen much, and to have nothing, is to have rich eyes, and
As You Like It.
She is indeed most fascinating, but icy natures are a
chilling sort of thing, after all.
To all she was polite without parade —
To some she showed attention of that kind
Which flatters ; but is flattery conveyed
In such a sort as cannot leave behind
A trace, unworthy either wife or maid.
I am not prone to weeping, as our sex
Lord and Lady Truro, apparently little
mindful of the unfortunate being whose lot
in life they had, by their selfish ambition,
VOL. III. B
2 EVELYN HARCOURT.
been the means of so cruelly blighting, were
at this period leading a gay life on the Conti-
nent — gay, at least, in appearance.
At six-and-twenty, Lord Truro, having
become what is called his own m^ter, had
succeeded to a very fine estate and clear in-
come of eighteen thousand a year, besides a
considerable sum in ready money ; and now
he had somewhere about eight hundred on
which to live, and that was all. It may well
be supposed that he found this sum rather
small for his wants, it being somewhat less
than he was in the habit of spending yearly
upon his dress alone ; but he had no one to
thank for his fallen circumstances but him-
self. He had been warned against peril again
and again, and he had blindly persisted in
rushing into the very midst of it, in spite of
all entreaties, all advice. He had deliberately
shut his eyes to the destruction that awaited
him ! Most assuredly he had no one to blame
for his reverses but himself.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 3
His wife who, whatever were her faults,
was at least innocent of any share in bringing
about the ruin his mad extravagance and
gambling propensities had occasioned, was
never heard to insinuate in his presence even
the smallest reproach. Whatever might be
her coldness, her worldliness, or frivolity, as
a wife, and to such a man, she certainly per-
formed her duties well. Not only did she
contrive to keep within her own pitiful allow-
ance, but still to dress becomingly, if not
handsomely ; and to render herself as piquante
in her appearance, and as attractive in her
manners, as she had ever been, in the palmy
days of her Grosvenor Square career.
Above all, she unceasingly endeavoured to
lay herself out to please the fickle and vola-
tile Lord Truro — and so far she succeeded
that when he was with her he was good-
natured and agreeable ; — but still, as ever, the
greater portion of his time was spent away
from home in the pursuit of forbidden objects,
4 EVELYN HARCOURT.
and she found herself neglected in Italy as
she had been in London. She might easily
have revenged herself, and paid him back in
his own coin; but she never made such an
attempt, nor even contemplated such an idea.
Still strikingly pretty, with unexceptionable
manners, and occupying an acknowledged
position in the fashionable world, there were
plenty of her own countrymen, as well as of
foreigners, who would gladly have under-
taken the pleasing task of consoling the
neglected wife for the errors of her dissolute
husband. But whether from natural cold-
ness, from principle or prudence, she never
gave the smallest encouragement to overtures
of this kind, and passed through the severe
ordeal of Parisian and Florentine society,
without so much as a word being breathed
against her name. Hers had indeed been a
" sort manquey In other hands, she might
have made an estimable, perhaps even a
remarkable character !
EVELYN HARCOURT. 5
Helen had written to her, as soon as Eve-
lyn's recovery had been established beyond a
doubt, and had informed her of the terrible
infirmity which that severe illness had left
behind it ; an infirmity which Dr. A — , by
the way, was of opinion might have been
altogether averted, had greater care been
taken at the commencement of that illness.
Helen gave a touching description of the
manner in which she was continually recur-
ring to Lady Truro ; and her deep anxiety
about her, and earnest delight at her reco-
very, had been amongst the first and most
decided proofs of her returning consciousness.
She entreated her to write frequently to
Evelyn, and, if possible, to hold out some
hope of their soon meeting again, as towards
that point all her wishes seemed most earnestly
This letter was despatched the very day
after Mr. Eridge's departure for Oriel; and
when Lady Truro received it, the English
6 EVELYN HARCOURT.
papers were teeming with accounts of the
melancholy catastrophe that had taken place
there. We will not pretend to say that she
could read either the one or the other with-
out some degree of feeling — perhaps no human
being could have done so; but, accustomed
as she was to live in an atmosphere of world -
liness, she had long since learnt to set what
feeling she really possessed aside, and to allow
reason and self-interest alone to have weio-ht
in governing her conduct. After due con-
sideration, she inferred two things from Helen's
letter ; one, that Evelyn was most desperately
anxious, under any circumstances, to return
to her protection ; the other, that Mrs. Percy
was equally anxious that she should do so,
probably because she wished to get rid of her
Now it was one thing, Lady Truro thought,
to bring out a beautiful cousin in London,
where she might hope to make a brilliant
match, and at any rate must entail eclat on
EVELYN HARCOURT. 7
her chaperon, and another to be saddled with
a love-sick, desponding, and, above all, blind
cousin, who was totally debarred by her mis-
fortune not only from marrying brilliantly,
but from ever marrying at all. Above all
things. Lady Truro detested whatever was
affecting or shocking to her feelings, bestow-
ing upon those imaginary sensations as much
thought as though they really formed a con-
siderable part of her composition. It ended
in her writing an answer to Helen, which,
though abounding in condolences and as-
surances of sympathy, yet contained so many
allusions to the utter impossibility of her
ever having Evelyn with her again, that Helen
not only saw through the selfish considera-
tions that had prompted it, but actually re-
frained from reading it to Evelyn, lest she
should perceive them too.
As for herself, she was little surprised,
though she might be grieved to find, that not
even so great a misfortune as Evelyn's could
8 EVELYN HARCOURT.
warm the heart of Lady Truro towards her.
She had always suspected that the affection
which that lady professed to entertain for her
lovely young cousin was not of that disin-
terested nature which poor Evelyn's generous
and ardent disposition, unsuspicious of evil,
had led her to believe.
It was the intention of the Truros to spend
the autumn and winter at Naples, and in the
mean time they were passing the hotter
months at Castella Mare. Several English
families happened to be there that season, and
altogether a very pleasant little society was
assembled at that lovely place, of which Lady
Truro reigned, of course, the undisputed
queen. Lord Truro was constantly making
excursions to the neighbouring islands, and
he would frequently absent himself for weeks
together, leaving her in total ignorance as to
where he was. She was, therefore, very fre-
quently alone, and to any one of different
mind and stronger feelings it would have been
EVELYN HARCOURT. 9
a most dangerous position ; but, as we have
already seen, she seemed to be either entirely
above or totally insensible to all temptation.
Fond of admiration she certainly was, and
nobody enjoyed society more ; but, though she
was universally attractive, there were certain
limits beyond which she never suffered her
intimacies to go ; and this was now so per-
fectly well understood, that most of the habi-
tues of her house had " pris leur parti,'' and
given up all hopes of making any impression
upon the beautiful but cold-hearted and im-
Whatever might be her motives, Lady Truro
certainly showed her wisdom by the line of
conduct she adopted at this period ; for there
was no other that could possibly have ensured
her against that terrible evil of Italian society,
the beinfj what is called " talked of." She
might have been as pure as she was — far more
amiable, and perhaps more really good, and yet
have been exceedingly *' talked of." It was her
10 EVELYN HARCOURT.
prudence and her tact — not her principle —
that saved her.
It was about this time that the Duke of
Shetland arrived at Castella Mare. He and
Lady Truro had not met since the period of
the duel, and at first there was a certain
degree of natural coldness and constraint be-
tween them ; but this soon wore off, under
the influence of her pleasant conversation and
agreeable manners. When she had been in
Italy the previous year, she had been too ill
to mix at all in society ; her life indeed was
at that time in a most precarious state. But
now, wherever he went, he heard her lauded
to the skies; '*she was so beautiful, so lively,
so charming, and, above all, so admirably well
conducted ! She was an angel, and an ill-
used one !" Now the Duke had never looked
upon her in the light of an angel before, nor
was he much disposed to do so now. He
certainly could not blame her for his disap-
pointment with regard to Evelyn Harcourt,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 1
for she had done her very best, from first to
last, to promote his views in that quarter; still,
he could not think her conduct in any part
of that transaction had been by any means
It was the first time in his prosperous and
adulated life that he had ever found himself
thwarted in any desire of his — the first time
that he had failed in obtaining any one
thing upon which he had really set his ducal
heart — and he firmly believed that there did
not exist throughout the whole of the British
dominions one other woman besides Evelyn
Harcourt who would have despised his suit,
as she had persisted in doing so determinately.
After the duel, which had been wholly un-
provoked on the part of Mr. Sherborne, but
which the Duke's own ungovernable violence
had unavoidably brought on, he had been con-
fined some time from the effects of his wounds ;
but the very moment he was permitted to see
any one, he had sent for Lord Truro, in order
12 EVELYN HARCOURT.
to make inquiries respecting Evelyn. And
when informed, at length, as delicately as
possible, of the melancholy truth, and of the
hopeless state to which she was reduced, even
he, cold and selfish man of the world as he was,
could not stifle some " remorseful visitings of
conscience" for the share, the very large share
he had had in blighting that young and inno-
cent existence. Here was indeed an end of
their engagement — an engagement which he
had sworn no earthly power should induce
him to give up — and an awful end it was.
But he could never forget her — the only being
besides himself he had ever really loved — no
one could ever replace her in his heart.
In a fit of disgust and utter depression of
spirits, he quitted England, and, scarcely know-
ing in what direction to turn his steps, made his
way to Italy, and found himself at last, as we
have already said, at Castella Mare. At first,
the sight of Lady Truro had been rather dis-
tasteful to him, recalling, as it did, somewhat
EVELYN HARCOURT. 13
too forcibly, her he had lost; but, after a
time, he began to take pleasure in conversing
with her upon that one favourite subject ; and
he sought her day after day. She was always
the same ; always gentle, apparently sympa-
thizing, and ready to listen to him ; and a
patient listener is a very great blessing, espe-
cially when a man has but one whom he can
confide in. He soon found that he was no-
where so happy as at Lady Truro's ; indeed,
he was very far from happy anywhere else.
He felt grateful to her for lier kindness and
sympathy ; there could be no selfish interest
in it now. She owed him nothing ; he had
refused to assist her husband in his moment
of utmost difficulty, upon the plea that the
engagement was unfulfilled, upon which his
promise of assistance had rested. She owed
him no gratitude, therefore, and the ruin
which she had formerly looked to him to
avert had actually come upon her.
The Duke began to think what every one
14 EVELYN HARCOURT.
said was true, and that there was something
very fascinating about Lady Truro, which he
had never perceived before. He occasionally
caught himself almost involuntarily admiring
her soft blue eyes and pure English com-
plexion, about which all the Italians were half
crazy; and there was something, too, unques-
tionably interesting in her delaissee condition,
and her perfect conduct under it ; never utter-
ing herself, nor allowing to be uttered in her
presence, a single word reflecting, however
remotely, on the faults or the neglect of her
husband. She was undoubtedly worthy of
better things; and the Duke began to find
that, either from the constant habit of seeing
her, or the absence of any object more
interesting, her society was becoming rather
more necessary to his comfort than was de-
sirable, or perhaps strictly correct.
He tried for a time to avoid her, and sought
her house less often ; but it would not do.
He soon found himself wending his way there
EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 5
at the accustomed hours, and her smile of
welcome at his entrance and gentle pressure
of his hand in her own soft taper fingers were
too pleasant to be relinquished. He would
rather, it is true, not get to care reallij for
the woman, for, if he did so, he must win
her, coiUe que coiite, and it appeared she was
not so easily to be won ; but he would resign
himself to what chance miorht brintr forth.
His disappointment had occasioned an indo-
lence — a kind of apathy — which made hiui
look at all things with something very like
In the mean time, Lord Truro returned,
and for ten days remained at Castella Mare ;
but, at the end of that period, he set off again
with a wild, harum-scarum, young Irish
Viscount, ostensibly to travel in Sicily and
make some stay at Palermo, but in reality for
various other objects which he and his com-
panion thought proper to keep to themselves.
Lady Truro did all in her power to dissuade
1 6 EVELYN HARCOURT.
him from this expedition, both on account of
the expense, and because she disapproved not
a little of the influence of his companion ; but,
as usual, he turned a deaf ear to her remon-
strances, and only laughed good-humouredly
at what he thought proper to term her stingy
disposition. She could not flatter herself
that as yet she had acquired the smallest in-
fluence over him.
When the Duke called upon her a few hours
afterwards, he perceived, to his astonishment,
traces of recent tears upon her countenance !
Now, tears with Lady Truro were symptoms
of no ordinary emotion, for it was not often
she yielded to such proofs of womanly weak-
ness ! She was known, indeed, to despise
them. What, then, could be the matter?
The Duke must endeavour to find out ; so he
sat down beside her, and prepared for a very
tender scene !...
EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 7
I a passion have for thee,
Greater and fiercer much than can
Be conceived by thee.
Ode from Catullus.
. . . . But I have
That honourable grief lodged here, which burns
Worse than tears drown.
And I, of all mankind, can love but him alone.
. . . . ffis eye
Stray'd, his affection in unlawful love,
A sin prevailing much in youthful men.
" It is enough !" said Lady Truro ; — " for
what you have already said, I forgive you —
but remember, Duke, if you would not have
me give up your society altogether, and banish
you from this house, you must make up your
18 EVELYN HARCOURT.
mind never again to allude to any fault of
Truro's in my presence."
" And why ? — I should have thought one
v^ho had known you as I have might have
ventured. . ."
Lady Truro smiled —
" When friends venture to discuss the
faults of husbands to their wives, those
wives may question their friendship for the
husbands at least. — But, never mind ! I do
not doubt yours for me. I believe you have
a sincere regard for me, only . . . . "
'* ' Regard !' how I hate that abominable,
frigid, unmeaning word ! Oh, Lady Truro —
you cannot but have read my feelings ; — you
must know that I love you — "
A slight blush overspread Lady Truro's
face at these words — she paused a moment,
before she replied with some formality,
'' Your grace forgets ; — it was but the
other day you were speaking to me of Miss
Harcourt — describing your love for her ! . . . "
EVELYN HARCOURT. 19
" And I spoke truly. I never can forget
Evelyn Harcourt ; and it is perhaps because
the idea of her is so associated with you, that
I have learnt to love you."
" Let us talk rationally," said Lady Truro,
resuming her usual pleasant and cordial
manner ; " I will be open with you. You
know, Duke, that I have contrived to pass
through the world till now, often under trying-
circumstances, not only without giving cause
for slander, but without so much as a breath
against my name. You know this, and can
you have so little interest, so little real friend-
ship for me as to see me fall from that pre-
eminent position — that at the eleventh hour..."
" Do not ask me what I wish !" exclaimed
the Duke — '' I only know that I love you,
and feel indignantly the neglect with which
you are treated. Oh, Barberina ! dear Bar-
berina ! suffer me this once to call you so —
will you not allow me to hope that one day
at least you will reward my love with some-
20 EVELYN HARCOURT.
thing warmer than the mere regard you
speak of — "
Oetoit enfin parler. As he spoke, he took
her hand. He certainly could be fascinating
when he chose it ; and he knew it ; — but
what Duke would not be fascinating to the
generality of women — especially when in
love ? —
Lady Truro withdrew her hand ; — but she
sighed, and for a moment made no reply.
This seemed to him decided encouragement.
" In spite of our knowing each other so
long — " he whispered ; — " somehow or other,
I never felt half that there is to admire and
love in you till now. How blind I was !"
" Not so ; — but you loved another !"
'' And why do you sigh ? It is true, I
cannot forget that love; — but is it not over,
as much as if it had never been ? I suppose
you know me better than to imagine I would
ever saddle myself with a blind or an insane
EVELYN HARCOURT. ^21
" I do, indeed ; — such an idea never even
crossed mj mind."
" Well, then ! I loved her dearly ; but it
is past, and she might be in her grave for
me ... . And now, why are you sad, sweet
" Because," she replied, with melancholy
gravity, *' I was thinking by what possible
means to preserve the friend, whilst I discard,
as I must and will, the lover. Listen to me,
Duke. I have said I will be open with you —
for we have, indeed, known each other long,
and been thrown together under peculiar and
trying circumstances. I have lately sym-
pathized with your natural disappointment,
and you, being touched by my sympathy,
have learnt to cherish a tenderer feeling for
me than you ever thought to entertain. Pity,
too, has led you to think of me with kindness ;
— and pity, we know, is akin to love. But
hear my answer. As I have lived, so will I
die — faithful and true to my husband. I
22 EVELYN HARCOURT.
never can — I never will — be more to you than
I am now ! — "
As she uttered these words, a shade of
displeasure passed over the brow of the
Duke, and he slightly frowned. It was a
quality of his disposition, like that of
most petted favourites of Fortune, that the
instant a thing he coveted, however slightly,
was withheld from him, that instant it assumed
a degree of importance in his eyes, which
determined him to obtain it, cost what it might.
"You cannot prevent me from loving you! — ^"
he said, with something of defiance in his
tone ; " and why, indeed, should you try ?"
" But I can close my doors against you ; —
and that I should regret to be driven to do,
to one for whom I entertain a real friendship —
since you cavil at the word regard. I will
not pretend to deny that your visits of late
have been to me not only a pleasure, but a
most decided comfort ! Oh, Duke, let us still
be friends !"
EVELYN HARCOURT. 23
As she spoke, she held out her hand to
him. He took it, and pressed it to his lips.
" You must — you shallloYe me yet !" cried
he passionately ; " if your heart be not too
cold to be touched by man's dovotion, mine
shall reach it !"
** Do not deceive yourself !" she replied,
resolutely withdrawing her hand ; " I have
said already, and I repeat it — I never can be
more to you than I am now ; — a sincere and —
if you will — a warm friend. Even if my
principles did not raise an insuperable barrier
between us, there is another, which you your-
self would admit the force of !"
" None, — none ! unless, indeed, you love
" Suppose I do !"
" Lady Truro, can it be possible? — But
no ! I do not believe you are capable..."
'' I am more capable than you imagine. I
have a heart, though the world, as well as
yourself, gives me credit for none ; — and that
24 EVELYN HARCOURT.
heart I bestowed, foolishly enough, years ago.
Perhaps if I could, I might recal it now — but
it is too late. I never can love another !"
"And who?— who?..."
" Why should I be ashamed to confess the
truth — and to you? It was my husband I
Ay ! yoa may start ; but it is the fact. To
him I gave my heart ; — not when I married —
I did not love him then, but soon — very soon
after. I cannot tell you how or why ; — I
cannot explain it. Love is at all times in-
comprehensible, perhaps — it has been so with
me. I only tell you what is true — what I
have never told to mortal being besides your-
self. Perhaps gratitude may have first led
me to love him. He had elevated me far
beyond my most ambitious dreams ; he had
not done as many would have done in similar
circumstances — trifled with my feelings — en-
couraged my hopes, and then left me to bear
my disappointment as I could. No ; — he
acted more generously — he hesitated not to
EVELYN HARCOURT. 25
bestow upon me rank — riches — all he had to
give — he raised me, in short, to himself, and
I felt that I owed him gratitude. I vowed
from my inmost heart that I would devote my
life to him ; — and soon this gratitude insen-
sibly ripened into a tenderer feeling ! As
his affection for me diminished, mine for him
increased. He left me perfect liberty in all
things — even when he ceased to care for me,
he still wished me to be happy, and was
ojenerous and kind at all times. — And so he
has ever been; for he has noble qualities,
" Well, I went into society ; I courted ad-
miration, for his sake. I hoped, at least, to
make him feel proud of the wife he had
chosen, even if he could not love her. At
that time, I first became acquainted with you ;
and the year after, as you know, Evelyn Har-
court came to stay with us. Ah ! that is a
painful period to look back upon. The world
thought me so happy then, and I was often so
VOL. HI. C
^6 EVELYN HARCOURT.
miserable ! Imagine m j feelings, loving him
as I did, when I used to meet him, day after
day, riding or driving with that horrid Lady
Augusta Brinckman, who was then all in all
to him, and whom I knew to be so unworthy
of him — so indifferent about him, in reality
— for all that time I know that she was madly
in love with another person ; though, to serve
her own purposes, she chose to affect a violent
passion for Truro, which he was weak enough
to believe in — and I, all the while, conscious
that I was devoted, heart and soul, to him ;
that mine was a holy, an indisputable right;
that there was nothing I would not joyfully
sacrifice for him — yet that I was nothing to
him — able to do nothing for him — not daring
to express a fondness which I knew was un-
returned— not venturing to offer advice which
I knew would not be followed.
*' The world thought me ignorant of much,
and careless about more ; — I was neither care-
less nor ignorant. I knew far more than the
EVELYN HARCOURT. 27
world, and felt something more, too. It was
not for me, however, who had married from
motives of ambition, and knowing what his
character was, and who had been, moreover,
but the favourite of a day, to act the jealous
wife, and render myself doubly odious to him
by my grief or my reproaches. On the con-
trary, I strove to make his home agreeable to
him when he did seek it ; I stifled every bitter
feeling in his presence ; and he saw nothing
but smiles and apparent contentment, when
my heart was weeping within me.
" At length, however, I became acquainted
with the habits of gambling in which he had
been led to indulge ; more, I believe, from the
vicious example of others than his own na-
tural inclination ; and I felt it my duty to
endeavour, if possible, to arrest so tremen-
dous an evil. I assumed a certain authority :
I spoke, for the first time, as a wife — I
reasoned with him — I entreated — and at
first I hoped I had produced some ini-
28 EVELYN HARCOURT.
pression. But soon, as you know, the good
effect of my words, if good effect there ever
were — wore off — and... but I will not recall
that time — it was one of unmitigated suffering
to me. I had no one to sympathize with me
— no one to turn to I... I could not speak of
what was in my mind to Evelyn Harcourt,
though she soon perceived that I was wretched ;
for I had sworn a solernn vow to myself never
to betray his faults to any one ; and faithfully
have I kept that promise !
" The state of my mind, however — the
constant struggle with my feelings — the con-
tinual endeavour to seem what I was not —
at last overcame my strength. I fell into
bad health. Then came increased anxiety —
alarm — tremendous losses at play — continual
embarrassments — remonstrances on my part,
and occasional resentment on Truro's. It
Avas all misery — misery — misery ! Yet the
world thought me indifferent ! Ah ! the
world often judges without knowing. Trust
EVELYN HARCOURT. 29
me, I was not insensible to the fact that my
child's noble inheritance must become the
property of gamblers ; — I was not insensible
to the fact that my generous and open-hearted
husband was every day sinking lower and
lower in the esteem of all whose good opinion
was worth having ; — I was not insensible to
the fact that a woman utterly unworthy of
him had usurped the place I should have held
...but on this point I cannot speak.
" It was then you came forward. You
seemed to me like an angel of mercy, ready
to step in between Truro and ruin ! Yon
were willing, for Evelyn's sake, to save him ;
and but for her folly, all might have been
well. But it is useless to dwell upon that
now ; it was ordered otherwise. One thing
I rejoiced at after a time— that my child was
spared the beggary which must have been his
portion. And, when ruin came — the ruin I
had long foreseen — I hoped at least that with
it might come some mitigation to my trials —
30 EVELYN HARCOURT.
that my husband, necessarily removed from
his pernicious associates and the society of
that woman, might learn to look upon me
with different eyes. I did my best. Heaven
knows. I strove hard to please him — to
make him love me — and that very striving,
though, alas ! it succeeded not in its object,
still served to make him dearer to my heart.
Yes, Duke, strange as it may seem to you
(it even does sometimes to me), in spite of all
his faults — his indifference — his neglect of me
— 1 still love that man better than anything
else in the whole wOrld.
" Judge, then, what chance have you — ^you
or any other ? — I have that within me which
steels me against all love !"
These words had been uttered with a rapid
energy so unlike Lady Truro's usual calm and
gentle manner, that the Duke was completely
taken by surprise. He had certainly mis-
judged her strangely. He had never imagined
she possessed one hundredth part of the feel-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 31
insr she manifested now. And all to be
thrown away on such an unworthy object —
one, too, so incapable of appreciating her !
But it should not be ! In proportion to the
value of the object to be gained, and the diffi-
culties to be overcome, his resolution rose
stronger and more determined. This woman,
it seemed, had passions — he would arouse
them ! She was capable of love ! he would
excite it in her. He would not be thwarted
a second time. She should be his ! But, in
the meanwhile, the more surely to gain his
object, he must dissemble.
" It is well," he said, at length, in a melan-
choly and subdued tone. "I am glad you
have spoken so openly, for I never could have
ofuessed all this. It would be difficult to find
another woman, who, under such circum-
stances, would act and feel like you. Truro
is a luckier fellow than he deserves to be ;
and, perhaps, some day he may have the sense
to find it out. But, at least, you cannot debar
32 EVELYN HARCOURT.
me from the privileges of friendship — to be
near you — to watch over you — to live for
you. We may still be friends !"
And when he felt that soft hand warmly
return the more prolonged pressure of his
own, he really believed, for the moment, that
it was love he felt for Lady Truro.
From this time, the Duke completely
altered his plan of operations, and began a
much more formidable, because more insidious,
mode of attack. He never spoke to her of
love; — he carefully avoided the subject; but
every one of his actions was a tacit declara-
tion of it. He was scarcely ever absent from
her side. In her own house — in her walks —
in her drives — in whatever society she chanced
to be, he was ever near her — ever on the
watch to perform each little office of atten-
tion and galanterie — like one privileged to
render them. And, whilst scrupulously keep-
ing between the letter of the bounds she had
prescribed, he yet contrived incessantly to re-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 33
mind her of his devotion. Turn which way
she would, she found it impossible to escape
from it ; yet it was expressed in a manner
with which she could scarcely find a fault ;
for he professed to call it friendship, though
it certainly far more resembled love !
Of course, such devotion in one like him
could not fail to attract considerable attention
in a place where everything was sure to be
known and commented upon ; — and, although
it was notorious that the Duke was an old
and intimate friend of Lord Truro's, and had
been for a length of time engaged to his
wife's cousin, still, people began to whisper
that, of all her numerous adorateurs, he
certainly was the one Lady Truro looked upon
with the least indifference. Perhaps in time,
if his patience could only hold out long
enough, he might be able to make the in-
teresting discovery whether she really pos-
sessed a heart or not.
There is no denying that this was a critical
34 EVELYN HARCOURT.
period for Lady Truro. Nothing is more
dangerous than love that assumes the guise of
friendship ; and, under cover of that name,
surrounds the object of its worship with all
the nameless charm, the hidden but delightful
attentions, which are its own exclusive right.
There is something, too, in mystery very cap-
tivating to the imagination of most women.
Indeed, I believe myself that half the charm
of love is over when once it has passed from
the eye to the lip.
It was indeed a perilous time for Lady
EVELYN HARCOURT. 35
Arise, and bring forbidden tears.
How beautiful ! if sorrow had not made
Sorrow more beautiful than beauty's self.
'Twas not the air — 'twas not the words —
But that deep magic in the chords
And in the lips that gave such power
As music knew not till that hour.
A singular and melancholy existence had
now opened for poor Evelyn, unlike anything
she had ever before known, or could have
imagined, and to which death in her eyes
would have been infinitely preferable. As
her bodily strength increased, and her recovery
became confirmed, her spirits sank into still
o6 EVELYN HARCOURT.
more hopeless dejection. She had longed for
death, and believed it to be near ; but as it
receded from her view, and a long vista of
years — years of darkness and misery — appeared
in the distance, her heart sank within her, and
she fell into a state of depression bordering
on despair. From this melancholy condition,
Helen found it impossible to rouse her. Some-
times she would sit for hours too^ether in the
same place, neither moving, nor uttering a
syllable — her darkened eyeballs fixed upon
some object which to them conveyed no im-
pression ; — at others, her misery would find
some relief in tears, and she would take a
dreary pleasure in recalling the days that
were gone, and, above all, that sweetest and
most cherished " spot of memory's waste," the
period of her love.
And, oh ! with what beautiful, what en-
during tenderness was that beloved image
enshrined in her inmost heart — dearer now
than ever, for it was all that was left her !
EVELYN HARCOURT. 37
How she loved to hear Helen speak of his
wonderful genius, his aspiring and lofty nature !
And his books ! when was she ever weary of
listening to them ? Again and again were
they read to her, till many a page was almost
involuntarily committed to memory. These
were her treasures — these her resources in
hours of solitude and weariness.
Mrs. Howard shared unceasingly with Helen
the painful task of endeavouring to soothe her
perturbed spirit, and procuring something like
relaxation for her mind, ever so disposed to
brood upon its own sorrows ; and in this
labour of love, her own burden became, for a
period, lighter. She emulated Helen, who
ever seemed to lay her own griefs by, mighty
as they were, in order to minister to those of
Evelyn ; — and what Helen did for Evelyn's
sake, Mrs. Howard did for hers.
The mind of poor Evelyn had been so much
shaken by the various trials she had under-
gone, that in some respects it had even yet
38 EVELYN HARCOURT.
by no means recovered its former tone. She
seemed to have completely lost all interest
about the very persons and things that had
formerly interested her the most intensely.
She rarely made inquiries on any point, and
she seemed to take every thing for granted in
a manner that betokened an apathy totally
foreign to her natural disposition. She seldom
alluded to Frederic Percy, or appeared to
wonder at his protracted absence ; she rarely
spoke of Mr. Bridge, or of Helen's infant,
which she knew had been sent to Oriel with
him. In short, her whole mind and disposi-
tion seemed to have undergone a complete
and melancholy change — the more melancholy,
because it seemed so totally hopeless.
She was entirely dependent upon Helen,
not only in such things as concerned her
daily and hourly comfort, but in a pecuniary
point of view also. Helen, it will be remem-
bered, was entitled to rather more than twenty
thousand pounds upon the death of her grand-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 39
father ; and the interest of this sum, together
with what she inherited from her husband, en-
sured to her for the future an income of about
eleven hundred pounds a year, a sura amply
sufficient for all her own wants. But a paltry
hundred and twenty pounds a year, most of
it left her by poor Mr. Eridge, was all that
Evelyn possessed. It was delightful, indeed,
to a generous and affectionate nature like
Helen's, to feel that she was able to shield her
beloved companion not only from actual poverty,
but from dependance upon strangers; — yet,
for her sake, she often wished that she were
richer, for there were many comforts, many
luxuries, she would gladly have procured for
her, which now were beyond her means. With
strict economy, however, and the most rigid
self-denial, she believed she might do much,
and oh ! how gladly would she sacrifice any-
thing for herself in order to obtain for Evelyn
the most trifling gratification !
It was about this time that Evelyn took a
40 EVELYN HARCOURT.
sudden fancy to return to Oriel. Though she
might never behold again the scenes of her
childhood, she yet wished to pass the wretched
remainder of her days amongst them, far away
from all but those who had known and loved
her as a child. There, a miserable wreck,
would she await that welcome death which,
some day at least, must come.
Dr. A advised that this wish should be
yielded to, and that she should be at once
removed as near to her former home as pos-
sible. It was most important to encourage
interests of any sort in her mind ; to prevent
that morbid apathy from increasing upon her,
which, if not combated, might not improbably
terminate in confirmed and hopeless melan-
choly. An arrangement was therefore speedily
made through Mrs. Howard with the Penrhyn
family, with whom that lady had of late years
kept up an occasional correspondence for the
sake of hearing of Helen, by which it was
concluded that they should all be received at
EVELYN HARCOURT. 41
Wynnesland for the present, the family there
being much reduced, by the deaths of some
of the older inmates. This temporary and
most desirable asylum having been found,
Helen might, when there, look out at her
leisure for a permanent abode still nearer to
her own old home. In the mean time, an ex-
cuse was made to Evelyn for not going at
once to Oriel, on the pretence of a desire to
indulge Mrs. Howard in her fancy to see
Wynnesland once more ; — and, absurd as this
excuse was, it completely satisfied her — she
accepted it with her usual unsuspicious indif-
The journey was performed with perfect^
success, and the invalid even seemed to benefit
by the change. And when once established
in the comfortable rooms which the warm-
hearted and hospitable Mrs. Penrhyn had taken
a pride in ornamenting to the best of her abi-
lity for her honoured guests, Helen felt some-
thing more like repose than she had known
42 EVELYN HARCOURT.
for many a day. As for Mrs. Howard, she
could not find herself in the old farm-house
again without many and varied sensations, but
they were locked in her own bosom, and those
of the family who remembered her formerly
were astonished at the increased command she
seemed to have acquired over her own feelings.
Her countenance had not altered in its ex-
pression, indeed ; — there was still endurance
portrayed in every line ; — but, in giving her-
self up to soothe the griefs of others, in
going out of herself to think of them, her own
trials had undoubtedly become less heavy. It
was rarely that she was now compelled to
^ pass the day alone. She had a project too,
connected with Evelyn, which occupied her
mind very constantly, and by which she hoped
to stimulate her to something more of mental
exertion for Helen's sake.
Up to this period, Evelyn had remained in
total ignorance of the calamities that had
befallen her friend. She believed her to be
EVELYN HARCOURT. 43
equally happy and prosperous as a wife, mo-
ther, and grandchild ; and never had the most
remote suspicion crossed her mind that her
lot was other than most blessed. Helen had
also succeeded in concealing from her, unob-
servant and apathetic as she had become,
every thing relating to the late horrible ca-
tastrophe at Oriel. Her infirmity, indeed,
rendered it no difficult matter to deceive her.
But Dr. A — had one day privately hinted to
Mrs. Howard, when he chanced to find him-
self alone with her, and the conversation had
naturally turned upon Evelyn, that he believed
it would be the bes* possible thing that could
happen to her, to learn something of the
burden that had fallen upon her friend ; for
it might lead her to feel that it was her duty,
for that very friend's sake, to exert herself
more, and make an effort to be cheerful under
her own trials.
Upon this hint Mrs. Howard determined to
speak. She was well aware how much cau-
44 EVELYN HARCOURT.
tion, what extreme prudence it would require
to perform such a task safely and success-
fully ; but she felt equal to the attempt. She
had experienced, in her own case, the good
effects that result from disinterested exertion
for one's fellow-beings, and she was not with-
out hopes of being able yet to inspire Evelyn
with a consciousness that duties still remained
for her to perform in life.
We have already, more than once, men-
tioned Evelyn's extraordinary and, indeed,
almost unequalled talent for music. Helen
had hoped much from the revival of this taste,
which formerly had amounted almost to a
passion, and the indulgence of which was,
fortunately, not incompatible with her present
infirmity. Before they had quitted the neigh-
bourhood of London, she had written to order
both a pianoforte and harp ; but, ever mindful
not only of Evelyn's present gratification but
of her ultimate good, she had arranged that
these instruments should not be sent to Wyn-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 45
nesland for some weeks, in order that her
strength might be more fully established be-
fore their arrival, and herself more equal to
the enjoyment of them. They were now
come ; and one morning Helen took her into
the room where they had been placed, and,
sitting down to the piano, began to play the
same favourite air which, on a former occa-
sion, had produced so extraordinary a result.
The effect was nearly as striking now. Evelyn
started — raised her beautiful head, now habi-
tually bent forward in an attitude of dejec-
tion — and held her breath to listen, whilst
she turned her eyes in the direction of the
sounds, as though she would pierce the gloom
that hid the instrument from her sight. And
presently tears came trickling down, one by
one, but gently, and without bitterness ; she
seemed to weep away her sorrow. There was
still some pleasure left for her in life !
And presently — oh, blessed sight for Helen !
— there broke a faint smile over those exqui-
46 EVELYN HARCOURT.
site features — the first !...2ind she exclaimed,
with something' of her own old eagerness,
" Dearest Helen, ^ou have done this for
" She has indeed !" said Mrs. Howard, who
stood by, watching her with tearful eyes:
" does not she do every thing for you ? And
here — here is yet another pleasure of her
Saying which, she led the unresisting girl
to the harp, uncovered it, and placed her
fingers upon the strings.
Evelyn was silent. She passed her hands
slowly over the instrument, always her favou-
rite in past times, and slightly started at the
sound she herself produced. Then, softly,
she began to touch it again, as though to
satisfy herself that it was no delusion. And
once more the same smile broke over her
charmed countenance, and for a single moment
it was radiant, as in days of yore !
" Oh, Helen, you are too — too good to me !"
EVELYN HARCOURT. 47
" If you are pleased, I am indeed rewarded,'*
replied Helen, with a sigh of contentment.
" But now, Evelyn, dearest, let me hear you
sing — let me hear if you still retain your
wonderful talent. It is long since I have
heard you, you know."
" Ah, yes !" and she passed her hand un-
easily across her brow — *' very long !....not
now, not now ! I am blind, you know. Per-
haps in time . . . . "
And as her hand wandered confusedly among
the strings, producing only indistinct and un-
connected sounds, they saw that a shade of
sadness had come over her with the remem-
brance of her infirmity.
With one accord they left her to her-
self ; she was not alone with those two
companions, and she might learn for a time
to forget her sorrows whilst listening to their
They were right. It was not long before
the tones of her rich clear voice, which seemed
48 EVELYN HARCOURT.
to Helen sweeter than ever, fell upon their
ears — at first, faint and low, but gradually,
as she grew excited with her words, rising
stronger and stronger, till at last they sounded
far above the beautiful accompaniment of the
instrument, clear and powerful as in her
brightest days. But then succeeded a low
and melancholy strain — one so sad, that it
almost drew tears from their eyes ; and though
they could not catch her words, still they were
sure it was some expression of sorrow for her
calamity. Her grief was beginning to find a
voice. So beautiful were those sounds, that
almost every one in the farm-house gradually
collected on the stairs to listen, and the avoca-
tions of the day were for a time neglected. But,
long after the listeners were gone, she continued
to play. Hour after hour saw her still there —
still at her harp, composing new airs, impro-
vising fresh words. She could scarcely be
persuaded to give up the necessary time to
her meals. She swallowed them hastily,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 49
begrudging every instant that kept her from
her new-found pursuit.
She went to bed that evening actually worn
out and broken with fatigue, but more peace-
ful, more composed, than she had been yet
since her illness, for she had something to
look forward to in the morning.... And when
the hour of Helen's solitary vigil arrived, hers
was indeed a soothing and happy conscious-
ness. Her own sorrows remained unaltered ;
but she had this day mingled a degree of
sweetness in the bitter cup of another, which
could never be remembered without sensations
of the deepest gratitude on her own part.
From that day, occupation was seldom want-
ing to Evelyn ; her harp and her piano were
her unfailing companions, the interpreters of
all her varied emotions. Under the softening
influence of music, she began to regain some-
thinof of her former self. Were her strains
lofty and inspiring, her songs of gallant deeds
and high renown, she w^as thinking of Arthur,
VOL. III. D
50 EVELYN HARCOURT.
glorying in his fame. Were they soft and
tender, and full of passionate melody, she
was dreaming of his love. Sometimes, if the
merry sunshine shone into the room, and she
felt its warmth, and to a certain degree its
light and radiance on her eyelids, something
like a sensation of gladness would for a mo-
ment glance across her — short gleams of the
sunshine of the soul ; then she would warble
a joyous air, and Helen would know that it
was well with her that day. But, alas ! far
more frequent were the occasions when her
strains would assume the gloomy character of
the thoughts that preyed upon her; and in
words of touching sadness would she lament
her irreparable misfortune. Sometimes, in the
midst of her own melody, she would break off
suddenly, overcome by the poetry she herself
composed, and she would weep till she was
weary, and could weep no more. But, even
after these bursts of excited feeling, nothing
soothed her ao^ain like her own wild music.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 51
Through its medium she could hold converse
with him, tell him all her love. She could
speak to him as from the grave ; for was she
not dead to him ?
It was on one of her days of more than
usual melancholy, that Mrs. Howard found
her seated by her harp, on which she had
been playing for hours, her head resting on
her hand, whilst her tears fell unchecked.
" Why do you weep, dear child ?" inquired
she, kindly. " Are you weary of your beau-
tiful music ?"
But Evelyn only shook her head, and made
no answer, and the tears from those sightless
eyes fell still.
" If you knew the pain you occasion Helen
when you weep, you would never do so, I am
sure," observed Mrs. Howard, calmly. " You
are destroying her !"
" Destroying her !"
" Ay, indeed, I think so. You cannot see
her, my love, as I do — would that you could !
52 EVELYN HARCOURT.
She is sadlj changed within the last few
Evelyn's eyes were fixed, and her face
slightly flushed; she was listening intently.
Her tears had ceased.
" Do you imagine that Helen is happy?"
inquired Mrs. Howard, gently.
" Is she not so ?"
" How can she be, loving you as she does,
yet seeing you what you are ? But she has
other and deeper causes of sorrow, which, to
spare you pain, she has concealed from you !"
*' Ha !...is her husband altered? Has he
ceased to love her?"
" Her husband ! — it is long since she has
seen him — it will be longer yet before she
sees him again!..."
" Where is he?"
*' She may go to him, but he shall not
return to her."
" Dead !"
"Even so "
EVELYN HARCOURT. 53
There was a pause. Evelyn was too much
overcome to speak for some moments; she
sat there like one stunned. Such news was
so astonishing — so wholly unexpected ! — she
could scarcely realize it.
" Helen a widow !" murmured she, at
length, in broken sentences, as though speak-
ing to herself. " Helen so afflicted. ..Yet she
could think of me — pity ray sorrows — bear
with my complaints "
" Yes ; she has indeed done so. And will
not you do something, too, for her? Listen,
my love; you are indeed heavily afflicted
yourself; but you know not half her sor-
" She is not blind."
" No ; but she has lost her husband — and
— Evelyn — her child .'"
" Her child ! — her child, too ! Impossible —
it cannot be true — it is too horrible . . . How
" It is too true — her child is dead."
54, EVELYN HARCOURT.
" Yet I remember seeing it... .No," (she
corrected herself) — " I never saw it ; but
surely I heard its voice one day — it was
brought to me. I am sure I remember...."
" It was ; but since that time she has lost
it. She was absent from it, too — it died at
" Whilst she w^as with me — she staid to be
with me.. ..Oh, Helen! can these horrors be
true? But I remember she went to Oriel.
Was it ill then?"
" It had ceased to suffer — to exist. She
went to lay it in its little grave."
Evelyn covered her face with her hands,
and burst into a passion of tears. Oh, how
Mrs. Howard rejoiced to see those tears !
" Why did you not tell me this before?"
she said, at length, in a reproachful voice ;
" I might at least have sympathized "with her,
as she has done with me — have wept with
" She cannot weep. Oh, that she could !
EVELYN HARCOURT. 55
She has never shed one tear since first she
heard of her infant's death. And all her
endeavour — her earnest wish — has been to
hide these things from you, lest, knowing
them, you might grieve still more for her."
" Oh, Helen, Helen ! How can I ever
** You can reward her. Strive to control
your own feelings; let her believe, at least,
that she has succeeded in comforting you —
let her see you resigned — submissive to the
will of Providence — as far as possible, cheer-
ful. Let her sometimes see your own old
smile ! This you can do..."
" I will — oh, I will ! She shall never see
me shed one tear again ! Dear, dear Helen !
Oh, how wicked, how selfish I have been — how
thoughtless of her — and she so bereaved !..."
Evelyn wept passionately again. She felt
as if she had been guilty of horrible cruelty
towards Helen, in her utter unconsciousness
of such dreadful trials — her own actually
56 EVELYN HARCOURT.
appeared light compared with them. Raising
her sightless orbs to heaven, she earnestly
prayed that she might in future be enabled
to devote herself to Helen's comfort, as Helen
had devoted herself to hers. At that instant,
the object of her supplication entered the
room, utterly unconscious of what had just
taken place. Evelyn heard her light step
approaching, and, seizing her hand, pressed it
eagerly to her lips.
'' You shall see them again," said she, in a
soft, low whisper, whilst a smile of ineffable
sweetness played over her features. " They
are not gone for ever. You shall see them
again — not here, but above !" and with a
gesture of indescribable hope and eagerness,
she pointed upwards ; whilst Helen gazed first
at her, and then at Mrs. Howard in astonish-
ment, yet half suspecting the truth.
Before she could make any reply, however,
Evelyn had turned to her harp, and, striking
a few wild chords upon it, began to sing the
EVELYN HARCOURT. o7
following words, to an air of exquisite but
plaintive melody :—
Yes ! thou shalt see them — " there are many mansions
Within one father's house" — and who can tell
How bright the love — how pure the soul's expansions —
Where they may dwell!
Thou may' St not know — along life's pathway wending —
Nought can'st thou learn of happier worlds than this ;
In vain the spirit pines to be ascending
To realms of bliss !
Here must thou pause ! and, pausing, learn to gather
Faith from aspiring — patience from delay —
Nor seek to pierce the veil of Heaven, but rather
Submit, and pray.
Go, then, and grieve no longer — be thy spirit
Calm and unshaken in its faith and love ;
Through Him who died for thee, thou shalt inherit
A home above.
Go on thy way rejoicing.— ^/i/(? is for thee —
Go — and work out His will on earth ; and when
Thine eyes grow dim, and solemn death is o'er thee,
Trust to Him then !
Trust to Him ever ! — He hath been victorious —
Death, thy last struggle He shall overcome —
And then, thy soul upspringing, bright and glorious,
Shall seek its home !
5S EVELYN HARCOURT.
Oh ! there is comfort in this world of ours —
Joy — while one hope we cherish 'spite of sorrow —
The hope that speaks of everlasting hours —
A radiant morrow !
Nothing can describe the effect with which
these lines hurst forth from the very soul of
the singer — the triumphant and inspiring ex-
pression of the last verse ! At length that
clear voice ceased — the wild and beautiful
melody died away. But other sounds were
heard in their place. Helen — the desolate
and bereaved Helen — was weeping at last, and
weeping passionately !
And Mrs. Howard, taking the hand of
Evelyn in hers, said gently, " Now see what
your power is ! . . . . How much have you not
done for her already !"
EVELYN HARCOURT. 59
.... Long in misery
Thoughts, my tormentors, arm'd with deadly stings,
Mangled my apprehensive tenderest parts....
. . . .the homicide and husband-killer ....
One morning, on coming down to break-
fast, Helen was startled and not a little dis-
tressed to find that Mrs. Howard had suddenly
quitted Wynnesland some hours before. The
poor lady had spent the previous afternoon
and evening alone in her own room ; but, as
she had pleaded the excuse of a bad head-ache
for doing so, no particular attention had been
paid to this circumstance. It seemed, how-
60 EVELYN HARCOURT.
ever, from Mrs. Penrhyn's account, that the
dark fit had been on her worse than ever, and
she had spent the whole night in alternately
writing and pacing about her chamber with
Helen trembled on hearing this ; and has-
tily tore open the note, which, together with
a small sealed packet, Mrs. Howard had de-
sired should be delivered to her the first thing
in the morning.
The note was as follows —
'' My beloved Helen,
" I well know your tender heart will
grieve at first, when you find that I am gone ;
but, this time, unlike the last, I go, hoping to
return again shortly. An unexpected and
most painful interview, which took place
yesterday between me and Mr. Chisholm,
has led me to this determination — one, as
I believe, of solemn, though unwelcome
EVELYN HARCOIJRT. 61
" Eead the accompanying packet at your
leisure. I have long wished to treat you (who
have been to me more than a daughter) with
that perfect confidence which is only due to
friendship such as yours.
" This seems a fitting opportunity. You
should indeed know something more of the
miserable being you have cherished, than you
did when you first blessed her with your sweet
looks and words of sympathy.
** Read then this sad but true account, and
pity me even whilst you condemn. I pray
that soon I may be with you again. "
Helen opened the packet, and found that it
contained many pages, closely written, but
apparently, from the various shades of ink, at
We subjoin this singular manuscript, which
may not be found wholly devoid of interest,
bearing, as it does, the marks of a strange
and somewhat perverted intellect and way-
62 EVELYN HARCOURT.
ward disposition, though not, certainly, of a
STORY OF MRS. HOWARD.
I was always a singular child. From the
earliest time that I can remember, my mind
was busy. I can look back to no period — and
I look back very far — when I did not reflect,
and reflect deeply too. From what I have
since seen and observed in children, I am con-
vinced that I did this to a most unusual de-
gree. I had a powerful imagination, and a
fearful spirit. A word', a look, a vivid de-
scription, were sufiicient to set the former on
fire, and to conjure up visions so like reality,
that I trembled at the phantoms my own brain
created. A dream would haunt me for days
together; and I would go about, bearing
within me imaginations of feelings and pas-
sions, which, could any eye but have pene-
trated to where they lay concealed, and any
hand brought them teeming forth to light,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 63
would have astonished the world by their
mighty force — their extraordinary nature. I
had moments, too, of inspiration, of melody,
but these were rare ; for mine was a spirit of
melancholy rather than of hope.
I lost my parents early, and was adopted
into the family of my father's eldest brother.
To this circumstance I attribute many of the
sorrows of my after life. A mother would
have watched me with a mother's love, would
have detected the first symptoms of my pecu-
liar malady — for malady it must be called —
and perhaps might have discovered the way
to overcome it, or at least to counteract its
growth. But I was surrounded by beings to
whom I was indifferent. They were not harsh
to me — not unkind ; but they were indif-
ferent — un sympathizing : none of them had a
mother's heart, and I know now what that is.
I soon became conscious that there was, as
it were, a iveak point within me. Oh, that
agony, that fearful horror I — how my heart
64 EVELYN HARCOURT.
sinks when I think of it ! How my blood
freezes at the bare recollection !
Bat I will try to describe — what scarcely
admits of description — what I almost despair
of making you comprehend.
There were times, then, when all the world
became, as it were, darkened to my spirit ;
when I felt oppressed with a weight I vainly
attempted to shake off; when all hope seemed
to die away within me, and nothing was left
in all the universe but Despair. These fits
would not unfrequently come on without pre-
paration. Suddenly, in the midst of gaiety,
with joy and mirth around me, my spirit would
be darkened thus ; and I would all at once re-
gard myself as a monster, unworthy to associate
with my fellow-beings — unworthy to partici-
pate in their light-hearted and innocent plea-
sures. I eternally tormented myself about
involuntary thoughts ; I strove to banish them,
and could not. The more I struggled against
them, the more they would recur.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 65
Sometimes, in the midst of joy and sun-
shine, when even mt/ spirit was at peace, a
sudden fear would shoot across me that this
happiness would be speedily marred for me
by an evil thought. The very idea — the ago-
nizing fear — as a matter of course, produced
the evil ; and then, although I knew it to be
involuntary, although I even felt in my calmer
moments that it was the very apprehension
which had occasioned it, still I could not shake
off the impression that I was a monster, the
peculiar prey of the evil one, and unfit for the
companionship of the innocent beings with
whom I associated ; and my spirit would im-
mediately be wrapped in storm.
I often wonder I did not go mad at those
times ; for I was very young to suffer as I
did ; but there is a strange power of endurance
in early age — a singular re-action. Some-
times, after these fits were over, and I had to
a certain degree recovered from the lassitude
they invariably occasioned, I was conscious of
66 EVELYN HARCOURT.
a joyousness — an elasticity — a lightness of
heart, of which no description can give an
adequate idea. My very spirit seemed to
dance within me, and was glad. It rejoiced
to be freed from its chains, though conscious
that that freedom was but temporary. At
these periods there was no folly, no extra-
vagant ebullition of mirth, in which I was not
ready to indulge ; and at these times, my
cousins were apt to forget the concentrated
and gloomy moods of temper, during which
they made it an invariable practice to shun
me ; — and the announcement — ** Bessie is in
one of her mad fits to-day !" — was sufficient to
bring the whole troop flocking around me,
ready to be as full of mirth and merriment as
But one day, I chanced to hear a grave
and acute philosopher, who frequented my
uncle's house, observe that the human mind
was not unlike the children's seesaw; — in
proportion to its elevation at one time would
EVELYN HARCOURT. 67
be its depression at another ; and that pre-
cisely in the same manner, and on the same
principle, that little Ernest, now high in air,
would soon be reduced to the ground — so it
was almost invariably found, that persons
whose spirits were sometimes extravagantly
high, were subject to fits of corresponding de-
jection. I overheard this as I sat watching
my cousins seesawing in the orchard ; — and
I pondered over it. It struck me, that if the
principle of reaction were indeed the same in
mind as in matter, the less I allowed myself
to be elevated in spirits, the less I should
necessarily be depressed. From that time, I
resolutely controlled my gaiety, and there needs
no stronger proof that, had there been some
anxious, tender, and judicious mind watching
over mine, I might have become a totally
different being. I was not insensible to
reason at that time, whatever I may have
But no one understood me — how, indeed.
68 EVELYN HARCOURT.
should they? — I was considered a wayward,
capricious child, not without powers and ca-
pabilities of a certain sort ; but who would
never make any thing out of them, on account
of my strange and uncertain temper. Ah,
Helen ! had I then been blessed with such a
friend as you, to direct and soothe me — per-
haps — but it is in vain to speculate on what
might have been — sufficient for us to know
what is. Yet sometimes I detect myself
passionately longing that another like myself
could be thrown in my way, even now. It
would go far to redeem my past life, if I could
but work for such a one, as my experience
would enable me to do. But I believe no
other like myself ever existed ; — I stand — as I
have ever done — alone.
In spite of the struggles and the sufferings
of my childhood and my youth — sufferings
that all proceeded from within, for outwardly
I had but little to try me — there was '' one
green spot" to which I still look back with
EVELYN HARCOURT. 69
melancholy pleasure. One of ray younger
cousins was sickly, and a cripple. The rest
of the family thought this child both plain and
uninteresting ; but to me she was neither.
/ cherished her ; and I could see sweetness in
her smile, and beauty in the small clear eyes
which not unfrequently turned their glance
on me. She was never afraid to approach
me, even in my darkest moods ; — I was never
sharp nor morose with her. I would often
carry her in my arms, till I was worn out
with fatigue, in order that she might reach
some cool and pleasant spot, too far for her to
walk herself. I used to gather flowers for
her — to sing her songs — and hush her to
sleep on my lap, when her poor wasted limbs
ached, as they too often did ! That child was
sacred in my eyes. I thought the hand of
God was upon her ; — that He had afflicted
her — and that it w^as not for human passions
nor tempers to embitter the fevv pleasant
hours she was permitted to enjoy.
70 EVELYN HARCOURT.
I wondered others did not see it as I did.
Yet she was not treated unkindly ; but no one
thought of her as I did — no one heeded her
wants and her infirmities as I felt compelled
to do. For her sake, I struggled with my
weakness — sometimes I almost overcame it.
When I loathed the very sight of nature —
when I felt myself, as it were, an outcast from
all peace and love — I still had a gentle word
to bestow upon her; — I still bore with
her fretfulness, and strove to indulge her
caprices. When the very whisper of the
trees was painful to my ear — when I longed
to hide my head, that I might never again
hear the murmur of the waterfall, nor the
music of the birds — I could still listen with
apparent interest to her innocent prattle,
and let her fancy I was amused. What do I
not owe to that poor childish cripple — then
and since ? She first taught me the blessing
of self-sacrifice — the heaven of devotion for
another's sake. And 1 bless God — oh ! how
EVELYN HARCOURT. 71
reverently ! — for the tears that sometimes flow
when I think that her short and painful life
was sweetened by my means. Yes ; — many
an hour of pleasure has she owed to me.
But she died ! — her little existence soon
closed — to open, as I trust, serene and pain-
less on another. I watched by her bedside,
day after day : — night after night I was still
there. I felt no fatigue — I was incapable of
Her parents loved me then; though they
thought it strange that I should thus attach
myself to the least fair — the least promising
of their flock ; but no one understood her as
I did ; — no one could guess her wants, nor
minister to them as I could. She depended
upon me — she trusted in me to the last.
I saw the sallow cheek waste day by day
— the fair hair become lank and thin ;
I saw, at length, the little eyes close, and the
shrunken limbs grow still ; and when I per-
ceived that the suffering spirit had departed.
72 EVELYN HARCOURT.
I thanked God that He had taken her to him-
self ! I felt I loved her well enough to give
How I remember all those feelings, though
so long ago ! — the memories of that hour
rise vivid and distinct before me still. The
hush of that small chamber — the little bed,
with its pure, white curtains — the tenderness
with which I gazed upon her innocent face
for the last time, and kissed her cheek, never
before cold nor insensible to my caresses —
the shutters, nearly closed, through which,
however, one ray of sunshine streamed, making
a long, narrow line of brilliant light upon the
otherwise dark floor, till some officious hand
closed them entirely, and to my sad and
superstitious fancy it seemed like an emblem
of my own future existence, whose only che-
rished spot of light had now disappeared for
ever ; — the silent awe, not unmixed with ad-
miration, with which I was regarded by my
other cousins, when they were told how inde-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 73
fatigably I had teuded poor little Minnie, and
nursed her, and watched over her ; and how
the last words that had been heard from her
lips had been expressions of fondness and gra-
titude to me !
And her little grave, under the old church-
yard-wall, where the ivy grew ! I fancy I
see it still !... These things may seem trivial to
you, but to me they are not so. Happy re-
collections with me are so few, that I may
well cherish what I have — and that is one of
the sweetest. Many a delicious moment,
many a quiet hour, have I owed to the re-
membrance of that child. Is it not some-
thing to have ministered to one of God's little
ones — one, too, who came forth, as it were,
afflicted from His hand, only, perhaps, that
she might return to him the sooner ?
From the period of her death, my spirit
sank lower and lower. Whilst she was there,
I had struggled against the ever recurring
agony, for I felt there was one who depended
VOL. IIL E
74 EVELYN HARCOURT.
upon me, and I put a strong check upon my-
self for her sake. But, when she was gone,
there was no one for whom it was any longer
worth while to dissemble. / was alone !
I could not join in the ordinary pursuits of
girls of my age. If I began to take an interest
in any particular occupation, I soon found my-
self crushed to the earth by one of my fits of un-
controllable anguish ; — and, after a few despe-
rate attempts to struggle against the tempest
of my emotions, I was soon forced to cast my
employment aside ; and the recollection of the
misery connected with it caused me ever after-
wards to look upon it with dislike, which al-
most amounted to loathing. I was reduced
to live on from day to day, making an occu-
pation of struggle and endurance. I believed
there was no hope for me ; — I thought my-
self doomed to misery for ever. Such was
my early life. Oh ! how unlike the youthful
days of others !
I never spoke of the fiery agonies that con-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 75
sumed me. There are sufferings too deep
for description ; and I knew that I could find
comfort — consolation — nowhere. None would
comprehend the occasion of such anguish;
none would sympathize with what they could
not comprehend. Even to myself, it was
often unaccountable; except that I looked
upon it as a peculiarity of my constitution.
To others, it would have seemed like the
ravings of insanity. But I looked around me
with a species of gloomy triumph, when I re-
flected that none were afflicted like myself.
I stood alone in my sorrow. I bore about
with me the consciousness of a power of en-
durance which no pen could describe ; — I had
attained a pre-eminence in misery. A few
years had dealt out to me the experience of
a lifetime, and I had become inured to storms.*
* If the reader should be disposed to think this descrip-
tion overstrained or unnatural, the Authoress can only say
that a case, in every respect similar to the one here men-
tioned, came under her own observation some years ago.
7b EVELYN HARCOURT.
Time passed on ; and at length, strange to
say, I became an object of attraction to one
far, far my superior — one worthy, indeed, of
a better fate. How was it that a heart so
noble as his could stoop to attach itself to
me ? I know not. It is a matter of wonder
to me even now ; but so it was. There is
never any accounting for love ; and his sprung
up unsought — unsolicited. I believe it was
first occasioned by pity. He fancied I was
neglected — overlooked by my gayer cousins ;
and that my silence and reserve were merely
the effects of shyness. His kindliness of
nature first led him to notice me ; and then
compassion ripened into tenderness.
He loved me deeply — devotedly — with a
far more intense affection than I was worthy
to inspire. But I was young then, and in
appearance not devoid of attraction ; and no
one, who gazed upon my quiet countenance
and placid seeming, would ever have guessed
the frightful turbulence of spirit that lay be-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 77
neath. Yes, he loved me then — that generous
and unsuspecting creature — and he sought to
win me for his bride ; and for a brief space
life and hope seemed to open for me anew.
But soon a cloud came over my spirit —
darker than any I had yet known ! I thought
myself incapable of making his happiness ; I
feared that I should fail in the attempt — that
I should poison the whole current of his life
by joining it with mine — I, who was marked
out for solitary struggles.
I took courage, and told him so. I gave
him back his plighted faith — I spoke to him
of those gloomy depths that existed in my
soul, which not even I myself could fathom
or comprehend ; which not even the power
of love could illumine ! I entreated him to
give me up — to leave me to myself; but he
would not. His affection was too earnest,
too deep, to admit of fear. He said that his
faith was strong, and that we would endure
78 EVELYN HARCOURT.
My relations were, beyond measure, asto-
nished at his preference of me. He was rich
— ^his alliance was a brilliant one, and it was
inexplicable to them that their sullen, silent
cousin should have achieved such a conquest.
They talked so much of my extraordinary
good fortune, of the enviable position I should
fill, and the innumerable pleasures I should
command, that at last they succeeded in kind-
ling within me feelings of ambition and gra-
tified pride, to which I had hitherto been a
stranger. Till now, I had occupied but a very
secondary position in society ; now, I was sud-
denly to be raised to an honourable and enviable
one. In short, I looked forward to my future
life with more of satisfaction than I could
have imagined possible. I began to hope
that new scenes, new interests and occupa-
tions, might produce a change in my mental
existence, and that the worst struggles of
my life were over !
I married ; and, for a time, I was in such a
EVELYN HARCOURT. 79
heaven of happiness, that I wondered at my-
self for ever having known despair. Some-
times, I almost longed to die then, in the full
rapture of those dreamy hours — that I might
never wake to the reverse I feared must come.
Alas ! when it did come, it was with a force
proportionate to the previous joy — a violence
that crushed me to the earth ! My husband
was terrified, appalled, at the condition in
which he, for the first time, beheld me. I
believe he strongly doubted whether it were
not insanity that ha 1 overtaken me. But I
was not insane. One peculiar feature of my
singular malady has ever been the clearness
of my mental vision — the power I have re-
tained, even under the most acute agony, of
self-observation, of noting down my own
sufferings, and w^eighing and comparing them
These paroxysms succeeded one another
with terrible violence. Everything was to
me a matter of self-accusation — everything
80 EVELYN HARCOURT.
became a subject of remorse. Continual
struggles soured and embittered my temper ;
I grew peevish and irritable, and, in grieving
over imaginary crimes — thoughts which, if
sinful, were at least involuntary, and produced
by my very overwhelming fear of them — I
fell into real errors of temper and conduct.
My husband became miserable. He bore up
long under the trials of temper which my
strange peculiarity occasioned ; but his health
and spirits at length began to sink under
them. I knew that I had destroyed his peace,
and a deeper despair came over me.
At length I gave birth to a son ; — and once
more followed a short period of hope. What
did I not feel able to overcome, for the sake
of that blessed child ? But the boy was taken
from me ;^-in the midst of health and strength,
and full of promise, he suddenly expired
in my arms in a convulsion fit ; — and from
that moment I lost all strength — all moral
EVELYN HARCOURT. 81
My husband mourned long and bitterly for
the loss of his child; but at length, after
many months, he began to attach himself to
the son of a cousin of his own, whom he had
in a measure adopted. Of this boy I conceived
the most insurmountable and insane jealousy.
I was jealous of him for the sake of my dead
child, in whose place I imagined him to stand
— and I was jealous of him for my own, for I
believed that he estranged my husband's heart
from me. Yet I carefully concealed these feel-
ings from my husband ; and I struggled power-
fully against them myself — and prayed — oh,
how earnestly ! that they might depart from me.
But they still recurred — still haunted me ; —
and filled my very soul with bitterness.
My life was now an alternation of fiery
jealousy, and the most acute remorse for
having entertained it; and an irritability of
temper was the consequence of these struggles,
that it would be scarcely possible to describe.
For some time I had been aware that my
82 EVELYN HARCOURT.
husband proposed making an alteration to his
will. I am not naturally grasping nor avari-
cious — I may say that of myself ; — but in this
instance my jealousy and hatred of this young
man actually rendered me so. I used my
utmost influence with my husband to persuade
him to leave the whole of his property to me ;
— and I at length succeeded. He little ima-
gined the jealousy that raged within my bosom,
and he believed he might safely entrust the
boy's interests to my keeping.
When I knew that I had attained my object,
and that the whole of my husband's large pro-
perty was settled upon me, (in the event of
our having no other child) without limit or
restriction of any kind but his verbal wishes,
I became more miserable than ever. I had
succeeded ; — but success was almost worse
than failure. Remorse was continually preying
upon me for the injury I had inflicted on the
boy ; — but I struggled against it, and the will
EVELYN HARCOURT. 83
One day, when I had been oppressed with a
weight of misery even greater than usual, and
the very air seemed agonizing to me to
breathe, my husband entered the room where
I was sitting alone. How well I remember
his look — the fixed dejection of his counte-
nance as he gazed upon me ! He was a totally
altered being from what he had been when I
first knew him. Long endurance had worn
his spirit, naturally cheerful and trusting, till
it had changed its very nature.
He looked at me wistfully. Oh ! the me-
lancholy of that fixed gaze — I see it even now !
But then I was half mad with all I had
endured. My spirit was wrapped in storm I
I felt that I must wreak my passion upon
I spoke to him fiercely — almost savagely —
I bade him turn away his eyes from me, for I
could not endure to be looked upon. I think
I must have been really mad then ; — but it
was only with anguish. Never can I forget
84 EVELYN HARCOURT.
his look as he replied to me — the sorrowful,
compassionate tone of his voice as he chid me
for my unkindness.
" Ah, Bessie !" said he ; " your own trials
should make you anxious at least to spare
suffering to others where you can, instead of
wilfully increasing it ! Have I not forborne
with you ? Have I ever reproached you for
what was beyond your control, however much
it may have occasioned me suffering ? — and
have I not enough to bear from you?"
But I spurned him from me ! I felt a
strange kind of relief in being unjust towards
him — towards every one ; — in venting my
agony in reproaches against him, in making
him suffer ! I hardly knew what I said. Oh !
you cannot imagine how my spirit was racked !
— how dreadful — how intense was my anguish !
And yet he forbore. He reproached me
indeed, but it was without bitterness ; — only
he said sadly, that the day would come when
I should repent what had just passed — and I
EVELYN HARCOURT. 85
felt in my inmost heart, as lie uttered those
words, that they contained a prophecy.
He left me ; and soon after I perceived him
through a half open door leaning with his head
upon his hands against the chimneypiece of
his own study, in an attitude of such inde-
scribable dejection, that a sudden revulsion of
feeling came over me, and I thought how ut-
terly wicked I must be to oppress a fellow-
creature with such a weight of misery as I
was heaping upon him. Then I inwardly re-
solved that, cost what it might, I would keep
my fiery agonies to myself, and suffer no im-
patient word to escape my lips in his pre-
After some hours I went out. I felt as if
the air would soothe me. There are times
when the sights and sounds of nature will
somewhat comfort my distracted spirit ; —
others, when they only agitate it more. This
day I felt capable of exertion ; and I turned
into the fields, resolved to weary out my body
86 EVELYN HARCOURT.
with exf rcise, and so perhaps succeedin stilling
the tumu't of mv troubled spirit. I soon
heard shots fired ; and, turning in the direc-
tion whence they proceeded, I came upon a
party of my husband's beaters, from whom I
learned that he was in a little wood close by
with Mr. Dudley, the boy whom I regarded
with such abhorrence. I resolved to begin
putting my good resolutions into effect at
once, and exert myself to bear them company
for a time during their sport, hoping by this
means to undo the effect upon my kind and
ever indulgent husband, of my previous way-
ward temper. I walked on, attracted by the
sound of voices at some little distance ; — and
soon discovered the party I was in search of.
The head-keeper and his son were bending
over something on the ground — probably game
they had killed — and two or three others were
kneeling or stooping around. But all at once
the boy Dudley darted out of the group, and,
uttering one long fearful cry, threw himself
EVELYN HARCOURT. 87
on the ground, tearing up handfuls of earth
and roots with frantic gestures ! At the same
instant one of the men moved a little aside to
wipe his flushed and streaming face — and by
that action discovered to me — my husband —
stretched on the ground — a corpse ! . . . .
88 EVELYN HARCOURT.
I am a guilty, miserable wretch !
I have said all
... I will endure. I alone will hear
What I alone committed.
Je ne sais quel poison se repand dans mon coeur,
Mais, jusqu'a mes remords, tout y devient fureur.
I am better now. I was forced to pause ;
but the worst is over, and I can proceed.
The worst, did I say? No; the worst is yet
to come — my despair!
He was at peace ; but I... suffice it to say, I
did not go mad, though they thought me so ; but
I envied him — oh, how I envied him that silent,
dreamless sleep ! — for he suffered no longer.
No one was by, when that horror of horrors
took place. He had kept somewhat aloof
from the keepers during most of the walk;
EVELYN HARCOURT. 89
yet they had somehow or other perceived that
he was more than usually dejected. At
length he had entered the wood, where he
said he knew there were a vast number of
rabbits, and he had desired the youth Dudley
to await his return. In a few minutes, the
party outside had heard the report of his gun,
and then a slight rustling in the bushes, as
though something had fallen; — and they had
waited some time, expecting every instant to
see him re-appear. But, as he did not do so,
and they heard no more shots, they deter-
mined, after a long while, to go in search of
him. They found him lying on the ground,
quite dead ; his gun, which had been recently
discharged, was by his side.
It was talked of throughout the country as
a terrible accident — a most melancholy thing.
He had been loading his gun carelessly — a
hair-trigger — and it had suddenly gone off,
and the whole contents had lodged in his
brain. But / knew better ! A strange
90 EVELYN HAKCOURT.
clearness of perception came over me at that
time — the result, perhaps, of my unspeakable
remorse ; but the whole course of his mind
was revealed to me as clearly as if it had been
my own. He had been driven to phrenzy by
the scene that had just taken place between
us. He had pondered over it during his
walk, till he could see no ray of hope that I
should ever alter — nothing to look forward to,
but long, long years of misery. Life, with such
a companion, must be to him evermore insup-
portable ; — I had already made it so, and my
malady seemed decidedly to i crease rather
than to diminish. The temptation was too
strong ! his mind was ov ^ powered — I know
it was ; — that mind, usually so calm and hope-
ful — I had stung it to distraction, and mo-
mentary insanity came over him. By his own
rash act, he launched his soul into Eternity !
Helen ^ I murdered my husband I...
I never quitte 1 him till he was laid in the
grave ; — night and day I sat beside him,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 91
gazing upon those marble features — that un-
moved form. He had died without a struo^o^le :
his face was placid — thank God, it was placid !
— for never, from that time, has it quitted me !
I see it at this moment ; wherever I turn, it
is before me — my murdered husband ! —
But I remained apparently tranquil ; — I
indulged in no violent demonstration of sor-
row : — only, on the last night, when they
came to tell me I must go, for I should not
witness the last sad duties of placing him in
his coffin, I shook them fiercely off, and
vowed that they should not part us — never,
at least, till the grave had received my dead !
And we did not part. I saw him placed in
the earth ; I heard it rattle upon his coffin,
without a tear, without a groan ; — and on the
margin of that grave I swore to myself a
solemn oath, that I would never touch a single
shilling of his inheritance ! It was all mine —
well did I know that ! but for worlds I would
not so much as lay a finger on it !
92 EVELYN HARCOURT.
I would not see Dudley Chisholm; the
very idea of him was torture to my soul-
torture beyond endurance. I sent to tell
him, that I could not bear to behold him ;
but that the castle — the broad domains — all
were his. I would have none of it !
I left the house ; I wandered forth — I
cared not where I went, what became of me,
so I but quitted the roof which I had dese-
crated — the walls which enclosed his form no
more. I walked long and far, I know not in
what direction ; — at length, I sank down ex-
hausted on the high road.
I was found by the servants, who had been
sent in search of me, and conveyed back to
my husband's home. On the morrow, raging
fever took possession of me, and I became
I lay long at the point of death. I retain
but an indistinct recollection of that time ; I
only remember, that I passionately longed to
die, but felt a weary certainty that I could
EVELYN HARCOURT. 93
not do SO. The peace of the grave was not
yet for me.
At length I rallied, and by slow degrees
recovered my strength ; but I soon perceived
that, in spite of my peremptory message to
Dudley Chisholm, I was still considered and
treated as the mistress of these broad domains,
the successor to my husband's wealth. His
will had so provided ; and my words had been
treated as the mere ravings of delirium. When
I discovered this, I at once formed my plan.
I secreted about my person my mother's
diamonds and other jewels which had de-
scended to me, and which were of no incon-
siderable value. I made a will, bequeathing
the whole of the property my husband had
left me to Dudley Chisholm, of Chisholm ;
and settling two hundred a-year — the pro-
ceeds of my own little fortune — upon a favou-
rite maid, who had served me many years, but
wbo had lately married, and was now living
in London. This done, I remained quiet for
94 EVELYN HARCOURT.
some time, assuming a manner of the greatest
composure, so as to induce those around me to
believe that my mind was in a great degree
calmed, and my grief somewhat subdued.
It was my daily custom to walk for
some hours in the vicinity of the castle;
and at first I had been followed, and closely
watched whilst doing so. But, after a time,
my tranquil and rational deportment induced
my attendants to imagine that I might be
safely trusted ; and I was no longer invariably
accompanied, nor even so strictly observed.
One blustering, stormy day, I dressed my-
self in some shabby clothes I had procured,
on pretence of giving them away to a beggar,
and slipped out unperceived at the hour of
my usual walk. As soon as I was out of
sight of the castle, I ran towards the sea,
which was within a short distance of it, and
threw my own bonnet and shaw] into the
waves, which were breaking with tremendous
violence upon the shore. I had left, in a con-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 95
spicuous place in my private room, a letter I
had written to Dudley Chisholm, in which I
declared to him that, since ray dreadful mis-
fortune, I had become weary of my life, and
was resolved to put an end to it, and directed
that if my body should be washed on shore,
it should be buried beside that of my hus-
band. Then I pursued my way for miles
along the beach, ke ping under the shadow of
the cliffs, which, on that iron-bound coast, are
of immense height, and hiding myself at last
in a cave at a great distance. It was so small
that I could only enter it by crawling on my
hands and knees ; yet there I spent a night
and nearly the whole of the next day, and
during that time I ate nothing but dry bread,
which I had brought with me. I was soon
drenched to the skin with the spray of the
waves, which, at high-water, broke almost
close to my cave ; but I heeded them not. I
was indifferent to everything, except the
chance of discovery.
96 EVELYN HARCOURT.
At length, towards evening, I ventured to
leave my hiding-place ; and, in the midst of a
pelting rain, I reached the town of M — ,
where, in a miserable outhouse, I passed that
night and the greater part of the next day —
cold, hungry, wet, but still undisturbed. In
the dusk of the evening, I stole out, and con-
trived to purchase myself some food, after par-
taking greedily of which, I resumed my jour-
ney, and was fortunate enough to obtain a
lift in a heavy waggon, which was proceeding
towards B — . Once there, I felt pretty secure
against discovery. I bought some clothes
even shabbier than those I had on, disguised
myself in such a manner as to be no longer
recognizable, even to those who knew me
best, and took a place on the outside of the
first coach to London, where, on my arrival,
I went without delay to the house of the
maid I have mentioned, a kind-hearted, ex-
cellent creature, who was sincerely attached
to me. I had but little difficulty in inducing
EVELYN HARCOURT. 97
her to enter into my views, and lend me her
assistance. I have already mentioned that I
had bequeathed my own two hundred a year
to this woman in the will I had written. I
settled with her that she should receive this
money as for herself, and transmit a hundred
and forty pounds of it yearly to my future
place of abode, wherever that might be,
keeping the remainder, sixty pounds, for her-
self. She w^as faithful, and would have been
so, I firmly believe, under any circumstances ;
but it was also her interest to keep my secret.
Had she betrayed me, she would at once have
forfeited the annual income she derived from
me ; and sixty pounds a year was to her a
sum well worth preserving. She knew enough
of me, too, and of my peculiar disposition, to
feel sure that nothing would ever induce me
to touch a single shilling of my husband's
I remained for a considerable time con-
cealed in her house — a small tenement in an
VOL. III. F
98 EVELYN HARCOURT.
obscure part of the city. I never stirred out
during the day; but sometimes at night I
would walk abroad, and hurry through the
streets for the mere purpose of inducing
fatigue of body. How I remember that
dreadful time ! — perhaps the most utterly
miserable of my whole life. I had leisure for
uninterrupted reflection — leisure to go over
and over again in my own mind the horrible
catastrophe that had blasted my life, and made
me a murderer.
Sometimes, for weeks together, I did not
leave my poor, tiny garret. I could not bear
the sight of a human countenance, except
indeed that of my former attendant. She
knew me — she felt for me, and bore with my
infirmity ; for she had seen me grow up under
it, and she was but too well aware that it had
grown with my growth, and strengthened with
my strength. It was only somewhat worse now
than it had been in my youthful days. Almost
every other creature would have thought me
EVELYN HARCOURT. 9\)
mad ; I believe, her husband did so, though he
saw me but rarely — but she knew better.
Mj supposed suicide formed the nine days'
wonder of society. The papers teemed with
it ; and I felt a strange kind of exultation in
reading the minute accounts (some strictly
true — some absurdly exaggerated) of my own
conduct since the death of my husband, my
ravings during my illness, and the marvellous
and almost incredible ingenuity with which I
was said to have effected my escape and self-
destruction. None but a maniac, it w^as re-
peatedly asserted, could have possibly shown
such cunning. If my servants were to be
believed, indeed, I had been watched far
more narrowly than even I myself had been
aware of. But, in real truth, luck, more
than my own cunning, had favoured my escape.
And, oh ! even in the midst of my wretched-
ness, how thankful I was to have effected
that escape ! I was at \esistfree ! — free from
the odious importunities, the prying atten-
100 EVELYN HARCOURT.
tions, of hired attendants, who cared not for
me; and, above all, free from the inheritance
which I loathed from my very inmost soul.
And so I lived on — if life it could be called,
which was but one mighty effort of endurance.
The image of my husband was ever before me
— pursuing me wherever I went. I saw him
in the calm and silent night — in the white
moonbeams, as they shone on my narrow
floor, I saw him — and in the fierce rays of the
noon-day sun. My chamber was never free
from him. If I gazed upon its sordid walls,
his face was there, pale and shadowy, as in
former days, with the melancholy and reproach-
ful expression it had worn during our last
fatal interview; if I closed my weary eyes,
his image was still beneath their lids, clearer,
more distinct, than ever ; if I walked abroad,
from every shop-window he seemed to peer
out upon me with his fixed and tearless eyes.
His spectre was ever before me ; and he was
indeed avenged !
EVELYN HARCOURT. 101
One day, my mind was racked with a sense
of desperation greater than usual. I was not,
as sometimes, rendered weak and powerless
by suffering ; on this occasion I was feverish
and restless. I felt that I must move. It
mattered not where I went, but I could not
Contrary to my usual practice, I sallied
forth in the broad blaze of noon. I had not
been out at that hour for months, and the
light, the bustle, the movement around me
filled me with a strange kind of wonder and
bewilderment. I hurried on, as though bent
upon business of life and death ; I felt relief
in this strong exertion — the rapidity of motion.
At length, after walking for some hours, I
found myself in the Square where my uncle
and cousins used to live ; and a feeling, partly
of curiosity, induced me to approach their
house. There it was, just as it formerly
looked, when I was one of its inmates. I
gazed up at the windows of tlie room I used
102 EVELYN HARCOURT.
to occupy, and thought of the many hours of
mental struggle and anguish that room had
witnessed. Then, memory, swift as lightning,
recalled the whole period of my childhood —
my youthful years, my marriage, and the love
of that true heart which, through my means,
had ceased to beat ; and a sense of fiery agony
came over me, greater perhaps than any I had
ever known before. I thought I could not
continue to endure it and exist. I have felt
this sometimes, both before and since, but
never as I did at that moment. I grew faint,
unable to support myself; I felt that in an-
other moment I must sink to the earth ; and,
being conscious of this, even at that moment
of horror, I remembered the danger of being
recoofnised. It was true, I was in a ofreat
measure disguised, and my dress was shabby
in the extreme; but who could tell? My
cousins might come out, might notice me, and
the bare fact of my being at their threshold
thus mifi'ht attract attention.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 103
I often smile to myself to think that people
should ever have believed me mad. The in-
sane do not reason upon and minutely observe
every symptom of their own insanity, as I
have always observed those of my mental
malady; they are commonly unconscious of
it. They may be rational in all respects but
one, even so as to defy ordinary detection ;
but, touch them upon that one tender point,
the one hallucination to which they are sub-
ject, and they betray themselves at once.
They are mad upon that point, and they knoio
not that they are so. But one of the most
remarkable features of my mental infirmity
has been the singular acuteness of perception
that has accompanied it throughout — the
power my mind has retained of attending to
and reasoning upon its own sensations — of
comparing the sufferings of one period with
those of another, and deliberately reflecting
how it would be best to act for ray own ease
under every different circumstance. I have
104 EVELYN HARCOURT.
always been conscious of my own weakness ;
I have always observed its singular variations,
as I should observe them in another. Like the
patient who, from some disease of the brain,
was liable to continued optical delusions, yet
was not only conscious that they were such,
but with a strange and fearless philosophy
carefully observed and minutely described the
phantoms her own brain created, so I looked
upon myself as a species of phenomenon, and
upon my state of mind as a malady peculiar
only to myself.
On this occasion, aware as I was of the
danger of detection, I struggled against the
bodily weakness that was coming over me ; I
clung to the railings for support, and con-
trived, not without the greatest difficulty, to
reach the next house, (the door of which was
adjoining my uncle's) where I sunk down on
the steps just in time to prevent falling. At
first, my sensations led me to hope that I
should die there ; but no — it was but a mo-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 105
meiitary faintness, produced by over-exertion
and long fasting, and it soon passed away.
I remained there some time ; at length, as
I sat with my eyes fixed on vacancy, a car-
riage suddenly dashed up to my uncle's door,
the sight of which at once recalled my wan-
dering thoughts, for it contained my aunt and
two of her daughters. I remained rooted to
the spot — I felt it was in vain to attempt to
move. There I sat, attentively observing
them as they each got out, and slowly as-
cended the steps to the door. All three
looked at me ; but Erica, the eldest of my
cousins, more attentively than the others.
She even made a kind of pause for a moment,
and my heart leaped to my mouth as I thought
she was actually about to address me. She
did not do so, however ; but she turned sharp
round just as she was reaching the first step,
and surveyed me again with an attentive eye ;
whilst I could see by the motion of her lips
that she said to her sister, ^' Julia, Julia, look !
106 EVELYN HARCOURT.
how very like that woman is to poor Bessie !"
I thought I saw the other turn back to look ;
but I waited for no more — I started up, and
burried away as fast as my trembling limbs
could carry me. I reached my home in safety,
and for some time went no more abroad during
the day. But an irresistible desire now came
over me to quit London, where I fancied I
might be discovered at any time. In the
country I could ramble about without risk or
fear of detection ; and, after so long a period
of close confinement, I pined for fresh air and
greater freedom. I went to an obscure village
in Derbyshire, in the neighbourhood of which
I had once spent some months on a visit to a
friend, and there I lived two years. At the
end of that period, my maid's husband died,
and, she being in considerable difficulties, I
went up to London to endeavour to assist her,
which by disposing of some of my jewels I
was enabled to do. She soon set up a small
shop ; and, by boarding with her, I was able
EVELYN HARCOURT. 107
to allow her a larger share of my small in-
come than was hers by our agreement : but
she well deserved it at my hands. I remained
with her till she was again fairly prosperous,
and then I once more set off in quest of a
country home. Chance directed me to Wynnes-
land ; and, having succeeded in obtaining a
shelter under the Penrhyns' roof, I resolved, if
possible, to pass the remainder of my life in
that tranquil spot.
It was there, sweet Helen, that I first knew
you ; and now that you have become ac-
quainted with my previous life, you w ill better
comprehend how my soul melted at your un-
expected kindness — how I worshipped you
for the generous and tender compassion you
showed to one you did not even know. I was
not conscious, however, how much I had learnt
to love you, till your absence suddenly en-
lightened me as to the degree of influence you
had even thus early acquired over me.
It was then that the accidental sight of my
108 EVELYN HARCOURT.
handwriting (so very peculiar a one), be-
trayed unintentionally by you, aroused the
suspicions of Dudley Chisholm. It ended, as
you well know, in his seeking me here. He
watched me, I believe, from some place of
concealment, till he had satisfied himself of
my identity; and then, suddenly — without
preparation — presented himself before me.
The sight of him (for in spite of the lapse
of years I recognised him immediately) af-
fected me so violently, that he must indeed
have thought me mad at that time ; for how
could he possibly account for, or comprehend,
the cause of such emotions as he witnessed ?
I yielded to the most unreasonable and cul-
pable violence — I vilified, I abused him — I
told him he had ever been my abhorrence,
my detestation, and that the sight of him was
utterly intolerable to me now; that it had
been, in a great measure, to rid myself of
him, that I had adopted the course I had
taken; and that I could not ao-ain behold
EVELYN HARCOURT. 109
without horror the person who, m one sense,
had been the occasion of my husband's death.
He listened with astonishment, not unmixed
with terror. All that I uttered must have
been to him not only incomprehensible, but
absolutely shocking ; and he attributed to the
ravings of insanity what was, in fact, only
the outpouring of my intolerable anguish.
He answered me calmly, as he had ever done
in former days, and that calmness I had
always abhorred. He endeavoured to reason
with me, to point out the folly, the unreason-
ableness of my delusions, as he called them.
He told me that he had never at any time
felt perfectly certain of my having actually
destroyed myself, as was believed; — various
things had, in his opinion, combined to make
it exceedingly doubtful. The circumstance
of my body never having been found, the
total disappearance of my jewels, which never
could be accounted for, nor traced to any of
my attendants, who were, indeed, all persons
1 1 EVELYN HARCOURT.
of integrity — and, above all, my strange mes-
sages to him respecting bis uncle's property,
and my notorious singularity — all these had
tended to raise a doubt in his mind as to my
actual fate ; and though, after so many years
had elapsed, and his utmost endeavours had
failed in obtaining the slightest trace of me,
this doubt had in a great measure subsided,
yet it had never wholly ceased ; nor had he
been able to overcome the feeling of uneasi-
ness of which he had been always conscious,
at finding himself in the possession of wealth
to which he was, perhaps, not entitled.
He now implored me, by the memory of my
husband, to resume at once my proper position
in society, as his widow, and the possessor of
his large domains ; assuring me that his cousin
had repeatedly told him it was not his inten-
tion to leave any thing whatever to him ; but
that I, who would inherit all he had, had pro-
mised to stand in his place, and to assist him
in whatever profession he might choose to
EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 1 1
adopt. He pleaded long and earnestly, as-
suring me that possessions to which he now
knew himself not entitled would in future be
to him only a burden ; and that, if I persisted
in my rejection of them, he should, at least,
proclaim my existence to the world, and the
part I had acted throughout.
This threat had only the effect of still fur-
ther inflaming my passion. I became infu-
riated — I swore again in his presence the
same tremendous oath I had once before
taken, that I would never touch one farthing
of this accursed inheritance ; I accompanied
the oath with words on which I dare not
think. Alas, how gladly would I recal them
now!. ...But I was fearfully excited — I had
lost all control over myself. The sight of
him had opened the old wounds afresh, and
my blood curdled at the very sound of his
Once more I escaped. With strange suc-
cess I contrived to elude pursuit, and no one
112 EVELYN HARCOURT.
knew whither I was gone, not even these
simple and hospitable Penrhjns. But after
manv months I wrote to Mrs. James, for I
could not exist longer without tidings of you.
Kind-hearted beings, how they rejoiced to
hear of my safety ! They always believed I
had destroyed myself.
For many weary months I once more lived
in a small garret over my maid's shop, in the
town of M — , where she had removed from
London, passing as a sister of hers, never
stirring out except at nightfall — seeing no
one, constantly battling with my strange
enemy. It has often happened that for weeks
together I have seen no human face excepting
those of my attendant and her daughter. It
was not till after you had sailed for America
that I heard of your marriage, sweet Helen,
and then soon followed its melancholy termi-
nation. When I learnt that sad event, I felt
that there was some similitude in our fates —
each had, by the inscrutable decree of Pro-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 1 3
vidence, been separated from the being she
loved best on earth. But there the similarity
ended. No contrast could be greater than
you, with your gentle, peaceful heart, your
submission to God's will, and your hopeful
and aspiring disposition ; and I, with my
seared and blighted spirit, my remorseful con-
science, and my continual struggles. Yet it
was an infinite distress to me that I could do
nothing for you. Once I thought of going
over to America — of joining you there ; but
I soon relinquished the idea. It was sup-
posed that you would soon return to England,
and indeed I had scarcely means at that time
to meet so heavy an expense without serious
inconvenience to my faithful attendant ; who
declared, moreover, that if I went, she would
leave her shop to the care of a relation, and
accompany me herself, for that she could not
suffer me to cross the sea alone.
Then followed the news of your arrival, of
the melancholy illness of poor Evelyn, which
114 EVELYN HARCOURT.
I now learnt, confusedly, for the first time,
and of jour taking up your abode with her at
Dr. A — 's asylum. It was then that I re-
solved to seek you, to entreat you to receive
me in the humblest capacity — I cared not
what — so I might but be near you, and have
my eyes gladdened and my heart soothed by
the sight of your sweet face. I removed to
the neighbourhood of the asylum — I heard
daily accounts of you — I often saw your
child, and the poor old man who lost his life
for its sake. It was touching to see him with
that infant — he loved it so fondly !
At last, you removed to Plashett's cottage,
and for many days I lingered near you — see-
ing you sometimes, thinking of you ever;
and the preoccupation and excitement of that
time did me good. I was almost happy
then ; and I actually prolonged the period
of waiting, fearful of any change. At length,
however, I summoned courage — I sought you,
and found you, Helen, as I had ever done.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 115
sympathizing, kind, and forbearing. My life
bas changed since then ! I have suffered, in-
deed ; I never can cease to suffer whilst life
remains — that one fearful remorse — that
undying recollection, must haunt me still.
But witb you I have learnt to hope, to look
beyond this world ; to fix my thoughts upon
another ! Ah ! Helen, what do I not owe to
But this period of peace was not to con-
tinue undisturbed. As you know, I was once
more discovered, and Dudley Chisholm came
again. When I first beheld him, I was
scarcely less agitated than on the previous
occasion. It seemed as if repose were to be
for ever denied me ; I had found something
like peace at last — a release, at least, from fiery
anguish ; — and now that eternal horror — that
dark, dark spot in my existence, pursued me
still. I could never escape from it !
I forbore from violence, however. I prayed
for strength, and it was granted me ; and
116 EVELYN HARCOURT.
soon other feelings came over me, even in his
presence. Your influence acted then ! I felt
how wicked it was to harbour feelinsfs of re-
sentment towards any mortal breathing ; much
more towards one who had never even injured
me, but, on the contrary, had acted an honour-
able and upright part ; and in his very persecu-
tion of myself had behaved nobly. I listened
to him with apparent patience, and, to his
astonishment, I answered calmly. I con-
fessed to him the whole ; — I laid bare my heart
before him. I told him how (though not
openly branded as a murderer) I was one, in
fact — the guilty occasion of my husband's
death. I told him, too, of my bitter remorse,
my unequalled sufferings for so many years ;
and I conjured him, now that I had found
something like peace at last, not to drive me
again to despair and solitude. I declared that
no earthly power should ever induce me to
change my resolution with regard to a pro-
perty I had so unjustly obtained; — and, at
EVELYN HARCOURT. 117
last, I convinced him, not only that I was in
real and solemn earnest, but, moreover, that
I was not mad, as he had always feared.
Then he endeavoured, once more, to shake my
resolution. He treated the idea of my hus-
band's self-destruction as an utter delusion
of my own over-wrought brain — the conse-
quence, probably, of remorse and bitter grief;
he entreated me to consider Jiis feelings — the
impossibility of his ever enjoying a property
which was not legally his, to which he felt
himself in no way entitled ; he implored me
to yield to his entreaties. But I was not to
be shaken ; and, finding all his arguments
utterly useless, he left me, at length. Then I
began to reflect.
Oh, what misery, what struggles did I not
endure during the solitary hours that fol-
lowed ! But I was at length enabled not
only to see what was right, but to determine
to do it. It was in my power, by formally
declarinp^ mv existence to the world, and
118 EVELYN HARCOURT.
making over the whole of my husband's pro-
perty to Dudley Chisholm as a free gift of
my own, to set his mind at rest for the future
as to the justice of his tenure of it. I could
make it legally his, and put it out of my own
power altogether. I could also, by accepting
a legacy, which I had always expected, and
which had been left me some time ago by an
old maiden aunt of my mother's, but which,
in failure of me, had gone to Dudley Chisholm,
satisfy his mind respecting myself, and over-
rule one of his chief scruples, which was, that
whilst he was in the possession of wealth to
which I was properly entitled, I was enduring
all the privations of actual poverty myself.
I trust I am right in the decision I have
made ; and that you, my Helen, my truest
friend, will not disapprove it. It has not
been made without a struggle so painful
as to recall perhaps the worst agony
of former years. And there is still much
before me that is inexpressibly repugnant to
EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 1 9
my feelings ; but I trust I shall have courage
to go through with it. Pray for me, my
Helen ; and, oh ! above all, pray that I may
soon be enabled to return to this, my only
spot of rest in the wide world ! —
A few days afterAvards, a newspaper was
enclosed to Helen, in which she found the
following paragraph : —
" Extraordinary circumstance in high
LIFE. — The greatest excitement has been pro-
duced in the higher circles, by the sudden
reappearance of Lady Charles Pembury, who,
it may be remembered, was believed to have
drowned herself several years ago in a fit of
despair at the sudden death of her husband
from an accident out shooting. It appears
that this lady has been living ever since in the
greatest obscurity, and even poverty, from a
mistaken scruple, it is said, respecting Lord
Charles's property, the whole of which he be-
ISO EVELYN HARCOURT.
queathed to her, but which, at her supposed
death, went to Mr. Chisholra, of Chishohn,
who has been in the enjoyment of it ever since.
Many rumours are, of course, afloat respect-
ing the cause of an event so strange as to
savour more of romance than reality ; but to
these we do not feel called upon to give pub-
licity. We have it, however, from undoubted
authority, that Lady Charles intends making
over in a legal manner the whole of the
Pembury property, which originally came
into the family through the great heiress.
Miss Gartshore Chisholm, to Mr. Chisholm ;
and that she has already given instructions to
her lawyer to that effect. It is said she
intends spending the rest of her life in total
seclusion in Wales."
EVELYN HARCOURT. Ig]
I slight thee not, but make thee welcome still.
. . . All those ties,
"^Tiich make man's happiness, and keep his heart
Pure by their purity — are nought to him . . .
... He again returns to the dark ways
Of foul intrigue . . .
Spite of his faults, he is my husband still.
O what a world this is !
As You Like It.
. . . Here is the gold —
All this I give you . . .
Lord Truro had now been absent two whole
months from his wife, and for a considerable
time she had not even heard from him. She
was beginning to grow very uneasy at so pro-
longed an absence, and to feel herself in no
VOL. III. G
122 EVELYN HARCOURT.
very pleasant position. Most of the English
had left Castella Mare, and it was time that
she should follow their example. The Duke
had fully succeeded in his object, which had
been to afficher his attachment to her to the
utmost ; — it was the general theme of conver-
sation everywhere. Yet such was the high
estimation in which Lady Truro was held,
that no one ventured on the smallest insinua-
tion against her. That the Duke was despe-
rately in love with her, was beyond a doubt ;
but there was no proof that either her feelings
or conduct were other than those of the purest
friendship. She was amiable and fascinating
to him, indeed — it was impossible to be more
so ; but who was there to whom she was not
amiable and fascinating ? No ; — there was
nothing to prove that the proud English Duke
had touched her heart, any more than the
poor Italian Dukes, who had done their ut-
most to touch it — and failed.
But though the world, or rather the little
EVELYN HARCOURT. 123
world of Castella Mare, gave her credit for
being still cold and impassible as ever, per-
haps she was not quite so much so as was
imagined. It is certain that, at this time,
either from a sense of her somewhat forlorn
position, which made her naturally cling to
any one to whom she could look for advice
and protection, or from gratitude for the
Duke's unremitting attentions, increased rather
than diminished since their explanation — or,
perhaps, from an idea that, having trusted
him with her secret, she was safe in future
from his attacks ; — from one or all of these
causes, there was in her heart at this period a
softer feeling towards the Duke of Shetland
than she had been ever conscious of towards
any other man, except her husband. She
had learnt to look forward to his regular
visits as the principal, and certainly the most
pleasurable event of her day ; and, if he did
not arrive quite as early as usual, she was
restless and uneasy until he appeared. It
124 EVELYN HARCOURT.
had become a regular and understood thing
between them that he was to be the person to
undertake for her any of those trifling services
of which ladies, without the protection of a
father, husband, or brother, sometimes stand
in need. If her Italian servant was dis-
posed to be troublesome, it was the Duke who
took him in hand — if any of her tradesmen
were extortionate, it was the Duke's factotum
who undertook to bring them to their senses.
If she wanted apartments procured for her in
Naples, it was the Duke's courier who was sent
to look out for them : — in short, it was the
Duke who acted for her in difficulties and
emergencies of all kinds — and this, after all,
seemed only natural, considering the length
of time she had known him, and his inti-
macy with her husband. But perhaps Lady
Truro was in greater danger now of falling
from her high and pre-eminent position as
utterly inapproachable, as well as irreproach-
able, than she had ever been before ; — and all
EVELYN HARCOURT. 125
the greater, because she was herself uncon-
scious of the peril in which she stood.
She removed to Naples ; and, as a matter
of course, the same day that she arrived there
saw the Duke comfortably established in the
nearest procurable apartments to hers. The
siege was now begun in good earnest, and
with every prospect, it was to be feared, of
One morning, when he went to pay his
accustomed visit to the lady of his love, he
found traces of extraordinary agitation on
her usually placid countenance. On inquiring
the cause, she handed him a letter she had
just received, and begged him to read it.
It was an anonymous production, warning her
that she was not only a neglected but a grossly
injured wife ; — for that Lord Truro, instead of
being in Sicily, was actually at that moment
in Rome, with his old flame, Lady Augusta
Brinckman ; and that such was the scandal
of their avowed intimacy, that they were
126 EVELYN HARCOURT.
shunned by all the respectable part of the
society there. The writer urged Lady Truro
to send some person, in whom she could con-
fide, to ascertain the truth of this warning ;
or to hasten there herself. The letter was
signed, " A friend" — and had no postmark
After attentively perusing this communica-
tion, which was written of course in a feigned
hand, but not ill expressed, the Duke ob-
served quietly that he had suspected as much
" And yet you never told me so !" ex-
claimed Lady Truro, reproachfully. *' Is it
possible that you knew he was deceiving me
all this time, and yet never..."
*' Did you not forbid me to speak of him
or his faults at all ?" interrupted the Duke ;
" did you not make it a condition of my con-
tinuing to see you, that I was never to allude
to them again ?"
Lady Truro sighed.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 127
" It is too true," said she mournfully.
" Ah ! why will you throw away your love,
your life, upon one so unworthy of you ? —
one who cares not for you ?"
" He is still my husband !" murmured she.
" And can you remain insensible to the
earnest devotion, the unchanging tenderness,
of one, who would willingly devote his whole
life to rendering yours more happy ? Will
you never relax in your coldness, your indif-
ference towards me ?"
" Coldness ! I think I have shown you any
thing but coldness or indifference of late. You
cannot but know how necessary you have be-
come to me — how ..."
She was interrupted ; — for the Duke, enrap-
tured at what seemed to him far more like a
confession of love than any thing that had ever
fallen from her lips before, had seized her
hand, and was covering it with passionate
*' This must not be ;" said she at length,
128 EVELYN HARCOURT.
somewhat feebly endeavouring to withdraw it
from his grasp — " but tell me — is there any
one you could trust to go to Rome, to ascer-
tain the real state of things ? I cannot do so
myself; — I have not the courage — and an
anonymous letter, after all, perhaps should
not be trusted to."
*' I could go myself, of course ; — but for
what object? It will but make you more
miserable to find your worst fears confirmed.
If indeed I might hope, from your finding that
that letter spoke the truth ..."
" What would you hope ?"
" That my fervent devotion might be ac-
cepted ; — that one of those smiles you have
so often lavished upon him who valued them
not, might be turned on me — then, indeed, I
would use every endeavour to discover — to
" Oh, do so !" cried Lady Truro, with sudden
energy, whilst a strange expression passed
over her countenance ; " and if it indeed be
EVELYN HARCOURT. 129
true that he is renewing his intrigue with that
most horrible woman, I will endure it no
longer! I will be revenged, cost what it
A violent fit of hysterics succeeded this
outbreak of passion, during which the Duke
vainly endeavoured to soothe her. Finding,
after a time, that her state of agitation was
such as to prevent her from being able to
listen to him, he rung for Deschamps, and,
informing her that Lady Truro had been sud-
denly taken ill on receiving some bad news,
departed with a very comfortable conviction
in his own mind that he was on the high road
to the fulfilment of his wishes, and that the
cold and impassible Lady Truro must yield
to him at last.
In the Chiaj a he encountered Lord Scone, who,
after the usual salutation and a few indifferent
observations, inquired if he had heard the news.
" No ;" replied the Duke. ^' Ministers re-
signed — or what ? — eh ?"
130 EVELYN HARCOURT.
" Truro has actually run off at last with
that abominable flirt Lady Augusta Brinck-
man — positively gone with her to Paris !
Brinckman, they say, has had a fit in conse-
quence. Ton my soul, I'm very sorry for
poor Lady Truro !"
" You don't say so !"
" A fact indeed ; — no doubt of it — deuced
hard upon her ! That fellow deserves to be
The Duke was silent. Various thoughts
were flitting through his brain, the most
distinct and intelligible of which was, that he
had better now be off" himself! It was one
thing to make love to Lady Truro in the ab-
sence of her husband ; and another to be
saddled with Lady Truro if that husband
should be divorced from her ; — and that she
would be able to obtain a divorce, if she should
attempt it, there could be no sort of doubt.
She was very well as an amusement — an occu-
pation — an excitement, when he had nothing
EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 3 1
better to interest him ; — but as a wife, he had
no inclination whatever for her. She was
ambitious, however ; and he believed would be
bj no means unwilling to adorn her fair brow
with strawberry leaves ; — it would be safer,
therefore, to keep out of her way for the
Durinor the short interval of his walk to his
own apartments, the Duke had determined
what to do. He ordered his travelling-carri-
age to be got ready as soon as possible, and
set off in a few hours for Rome, having written
a note to Lady Truro, informing her that he
had resolved on executing her commission
himself, as there was no one he knew to whom
he could well entrust so delicate a matter.
Not one word did he say of the news which
was now in the mouth of every one, respecting
Lord Truro. She would hear that soon enough,
he was very well convinced !
She did hear it ; and when, in a state of
something like distraction, she wrote to the
132 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Duke, entreating him to return to Naples im-
mediately, for that now her only hope was in
him, this refined man of the world replied,
that although he sympathized most deeply
with her distress, yet, considering the peculiar
nature of his feelings towards her, it was per-
haps better and more prudent for her sake
that he should refrain from going to her, at
least for a time.
Such is the world!
Lady Truro was now utterly crushed. In
the midst of so much distress, she had but
one consolation — that she had not sunk under
the temptation to which she had been exposed.
Perhaps that temptation had been greater
than was generally imagined ; — perhaps, with-
out the safeguard of religious principle to
shield her, she might at last have succumbed
under it — who can tell? But to have sacri-
ficed herself — her peace of mind — her spotless
reputation — to such a man — one so heartless
— so inveterately selfish — that would indeed
EVELYN HARCOURT. 133
have been degradation — and she was thankful
to be spared it !
In the mean time, proofs of sympathy and
compassion, and offers of assistance, met her
on all sides. A person under such circum-
stances would be always sure of kindness from
Englishmen ; — and the disgust felt by every
one at the Duke's heartless abandonment of
her at the very moment of her utmost need
increased the general feeling of sympathy and
desire to serve her.
She wrote to Lord Truro, requesting to
know his intentions for the future, and in-
forming him that in the mean time she had
not money enough to pay the debts that had
been contracted at Naples and Castella Mare.
In due time his answer arrived ; — it was such
as might have been expected from him. He
expressed a certain degree of regret for the
distress he had occasioned her, and he ac-
knowledged that he had treated her shame-
fully ; but he assured her it was utterly
1 34 EVELYN HARCOURT.
impossible for him to break through his present
connexion now. He could only hope she might
be happier without, than she could ever have
been with, him. " As for money, it was
morally impossible for him to send her any at
present ; — it w^as as much as he could do to
get on in any manner himself. She must
borrow of her English friends at Naples, and
pay off what debts she could ; — the rest must
be left to chance !"
After such a letter, all hope was clearly over.
Luckily, she had two hundred a year of her
own, the interest of her own small fortune,
which had been settled upon her at the time of
her marriage ; and upon this she must in future
contrive to live. She had nothing else to de-
pend upon ; for her father, a poor but extra-
vagant Yorkshire Squire, had considered him-
self too much honoured by the alliance of a
Marquis, to dream of asking that Marquis to
settle any thing upon his daughter; — Lord
Truro had consequently forgotten, or, at any
EVELYN HARCOURT. 135
rate, omitted to do so ; consequently, but for
her own scanty pittance, she would now have
She was determined not to quit Naples till
all her husband's debts were paid ; — but how
were they to be paid was the question ? She
had no near relations, except the brother who
had succeeded to her father's estate, and who
was a proud, narrow-minded, pig-headed man,
A\ith a strong prejudice against all persons
of rank, whom he imagined to entertain a pe-
culiar contempt for country Squires, and a
particular dislike to Lord Truro himself. He
had never been friendly to his sister since her
marriage, and he returned the most unqualified
refusal to her entreaty for assistance now.
She had no alternative, therefore, but to accept
the aid of persons on whom she had no actual
claim, or to remain quietly where she was, and
endeavour, by a degree of economy amounting
to penuriousness, to pay off the debts she owed
by slow degrees. She chose the latter plan.
136 EVELYN HARCOURT.
One day, on returning from her solitary
walk, she found a letter on her table from
Messrs. F , the bankers at Naples, inform-
ing her that they had received an order to
credit to her account the sum of two hundred
pounds; and that they would send her the
whole or any portion of this money, whenever
she thought proper to apply for it. " The
person who had sent this sum was Miss Evelyn
Did Lady Truro's heart smite her then? . . .
We can but hope so !
EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 37
Hail to your mountains, groves, and woodlands dear !
Hail to your flowery lawns and streamlets clear !
Observe yon verdant fields and shady bowers,
Wberein I've passed so many happy hours
Helas ! de tant d'amour, et de tant de bienfaits
que) moyeu de m'acquitter jamais!
As is the spring to the earth
Since the event of the fire, Mrs. Harry and
her children had taken up their abode at
Eridge Priory, a lovely place within a mile of
Oriel, which had formerly belonged to Mr.
Eridge, but which he had sold some years be-
fore. It had always hitherto been the jointure
house of this ancient family ; but Mrs. Eridge
138 EVELYN HARCOURT.
had conceived so great a dislike to it, from
the circumstance of two of her children having
died there many years before, that her hus-
band was at last induced to part with it for a
considerable sum, which at that time he
Nothing could exceed the beauty of this
place. The house was a perfect bijou of its
kind — a second Oriel, only much smaller. It
was situated on a gentle eminence, with a thick
grove of trees rising immediately behind it ;
below was the beautiful river, whose banks
were unrivalled for their varied loveliness —
sometimes dotted with trees, whose branches
the shining waters bathed — sometimes inter-
spersed with rocks and crags, that lent a wild
and romantic character to the scene. To the
right was the picturesque little village of
Bridge, with its neat white cottages, its
smooth green, and, above all, its exquisite
old church ; and far away in the distance
were the blue mountains of P .
EVELYN HARCOURT. 139
Oh, what a peaceful and lovely spot that
Priory was ! It possessed within itself every
thing that could constitute enjoyment — every
thing that the most fastidious taste could re-
quire, in a small way : exquisite scenery —
capital fishing — a good garden — the prettiest
and best laid-out pleasure-grounds imaginable
— with a stream as clear as crystal meander-
ing through them, now trickling silently over
the shining pebbles, as though to escape ob-
servation, now foaming over the rocks in a
tiny cascade ; now widening into a pool, over
which the summer flies sported, and shaded
by thick groves from the heat and glare of
day. Then the house was so perfect of its
kind — a miniature Oriel — as quaint, as old-
fashioned, as curious; with its carved oak
panels, its gable ends, and polished oak stair-
case, shining like ebony. There were not
many places of its size in England or Wales
to be compared with Bridge Priory.
The present proprietor, who was a relation
140 EVELYN HARCOURT.
of Mr. Chisholm's, had lent it to Mrs. Harry,
on the occasion of the lire, for as long a time
as she should think proper to occupy it ; and
she had accordingly resided there ever since.
She and her children had been several times
over to Wynnesland since the arrival of Helen
and Evelyn : and as they were shortly return-
ing to Paris, Helen had promised that she
and her companion would spend one day with
them at the Priory, previous to their de-
parture. She looked forward with no small
dread to this visit, which, indeed, she had
only consented to out of kindness to the girls,
who were miserable at the idea of seeing no
more of her; and she wondered to herself
how they could press her so much to do what
they could not but know must be so deeply
painful under her circumstances. The Priory
was so very near Oriel, that it would be almost
impossible altogether to avoid those dear but
melancholy ruins ; and the venerable church,
with its ancient yews and its low, moss-grown
EVELYN HARCOURT. 141
walls, was actually within sight of the house.
There the good old couple slept ; and there,
too, was another little grave and though
Helen felt that near that spot she would
rather make her future honae than in any
other place in the whole world, still, it was
not thus she wished to see it again for the
A few days before that fixed for the visit,
a letter arrived from Mrs. Harry, reminding
her of her promise, and strongly urging the
fulfilment of it ; whilst at the same time she
admitted that they might possibly take their
departure a day or two earlier than they had
intended, in order to meet '* cette respectable
Elisabeth et son inter essante famille^' who hap-
pened to be staying at Dover. Of course she
would let Helen know if this were decided on.
Helen fervently hoped it might be; and
up to the very morning fixed upon, she kept
anxiously expecting a second letter to put
them oflf. None came, however; so Evelyn
142 EVELYN HARCOURT.
and she, reluctantly and with heavy hearts,
prepared for the expedition, which both felt
to be a most painful effort. They set off in
Mrs. Penrhyn's little pony-chair, which she,
with her usual kindness, had placed at their
disposal for the occasion. It is difficult to
say which felt the most melancholy — Evelyn,
with her sightless eyes, incapable of behold-
ing any object, or Helen, who dreaded so
much those she should behold. But both
were sad ; and the first few miles were passed
in total silence.
At length, Owen Penrhyn, the farmer's
eldest son, whose heart had been made glad
by the permission to drive the ladies over to
the Priory, stopped short, and, pulling the
front lock of his sandy hair with that habitual
ofrin which not even the most strenuous
efforts of his will could restrain whenever he
addressed them, observed submissively —
" Please, ladies, pony have lost his shoe."
This was awkward. They were not within
EVELYN HARCOURT. 143
three miles of any village; and to drive the
precious pony without a shoe was not to be
thought of. Owen would be sorry to venture
his ears within reach of his mother's powerful
hand if he ventured on such a misdemeanour.
He jumped off his seat ; and, after a long con-
sultation with Helen, it was at leno^th aofreed
that they should go on at a foot's pace to the
nearest blacksmith's, which would oblige them
to make a circuit of some miles.
On they proceeded, all three walking, out
of consideration for the pony's foot, and think-
ing the blacksmith's would never be reached.
At last, however, it did appear in sight ; but,
even when they had attained it, they had to
wait three quarters of an hour, before the
blacksmith himself could be found, thouo-h
several persons declared they had seen him
but a few minutes before in such and such a
place. And when at length he did appear,
no shoe small enough for the pony's foot was
at first forthcoming; and there was another
144 EVELYN HARCOURT.
long delay on that account. In short, so
much time was lost, that they did not reach
the little ivy-covered lodge of the Priory till
full six hours later than they ought to have
done ; and the beautiful Priory itself looked
solemn and sad in the autumnal twilight, with
its immemorial trees almost bare of foliage,
and the chill mists of evening beginning to
gather on the banks of the placid river.
The door was opened by one of Mr. Bridge's
old tenants, whom Helen well knew. His
appearance surprised her.
" Surely, the family are not gone !" said she.
** Yes, ma'am, they be; they left y ester-
" How strange of Mrs. Harry not to send
me word !" exclaimed Helen. " How like
her !...." But both Evelyn and she were con-
scious of a sensation of relief.
" We must sleep here now, at any rate. I
suppose we may do so."
" Certainly, certainly," replied the man.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 145
" My missis be here, and I'll tell her you're
come. Please to walk into the oak parlour,
Helen led her companion through the hall,
with its richly carved wainscoting and ex-
quisite chimneypiece, supported on either
side by beautiful oak figures, as large as life,
and passed into the wainscoted room, deno-
minated the oak parlour.
But, all at once, the arm on which Evelyn
rested trembled, and she felt Helen start,
as she uttered an exclamation of surprise.
That room was not empty ; in it was an
individual who rose as they entered, and
presented to Helen's astonished eyes no less
a person than Mrs. Howard, or, as we must (
in future call her. Lady Charles Pembury
When the first emotions of surprise and
pleasure had, to a certain degree, subsided,
that lady, looking at them affectionately,
whilst the tears still stood in her eyes, ob-
VOL. III. H
146 EVELYN HARCOURT.
served that she feared they must both be
" You have been long on the road, my
loves, and Evelyn, at least, must be completely
worn out. Come now to dinner ; it is ready
for you, and think nothing about me till you
have eaten and rested. I will promise to
explain to you to-morrow how it is that I
became acquainted with your wonderful rela-
tion, Mrs. Harry, and by what singular chance
you find me here."
The next morning Helen rose early, full of
an earnest but a melancholy desire to gaze upon
scenes she had formerly loved so well. Fre-
deric Percy and she had spent more than one
day in the recesses of these woods, and by the
side of that romantic river, during the happy
time when their love had not yet " passed
from the eye to the lip." Well did she
remember those days ; they were full of sweet
and tender recollections ; but, alas ! so melan-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 14?
choly now ! She longed to retrace each spot,
to visit again each shady nook where they
had rested on these occasions.
The morning was cloudless and serene — a
bright autumnal day; so, leaving the yet
sleeping Evelyn, she stole forth upon the
terrace in front of the house. But she had
not been there many moments before she
met Lady Charles, who eagerly embraced
" Come with me, dearest," said she ; " I
have so much to say to you whilst Evelyn is
Helen would gladly have spent some time
alone. Her heart " knew its own bitterness,"
and with that a stranger could not inter-
meddle. But she was not one to show cold-
ness or want of interest towards a friend,
and especially one but just restored to her.
She let Lady Charles draw her arm within her
own, and lead her towards the beautiful little
flower-garden, still bright and gay, though
148 EVELYN HARCOURT.
the season for flowers had passed. She waited,
however, for her companion to speak first;
she was fearful of touching former wounds
by any indiscreet allusion.
" Well, Helen !" said Lady Charles, at
length, tenderly pressing the arm she held ;
** I know you have felt for me all this while."
** I have indeed."
" I have had much to struggle with ; but,
thank God ! my courage has never once de-
serted me. The hope of benefitting others has
kept me up, and, in particular, one person."
" You may imagine the intense interest
with which I read "
But Helen was reminded that she was ven-
turing on forbidden ground : Lady Charles
pressed her arm.
" Do not allude to that," whispered she,
making an effort to retain her composure.
" Let it be as though it had never been. I
wished you to know all — all that concerned
the miserable being you had served ; but now
EVELYN HARCOURT. 149
— forget it, as I have so often prayed to do in
There was a short pause; at length she
" One thing, however, I will tell you, for
it will give you pleasure. I am far less
miserable than I was. Dudley Chisholm has
indeed rewarded my evil with good ; he has
been the means of inexpressibly lightenino^ my
burden — of relievini; me from an untold vveiirht
of sorrow and remorse.
" I cannot speak much on this most painful
subject. I cannot enter into particulars ;
but it seems that, from the time of my last
conversation with him, he has been occupied
in endeavouring to collect together proofs
that my wretched conduct was in no way in-
strumental in bringing about that fearful
catastrophe ; in short, that I am not, as I
have always believed, a murderer. In this
most benevolent, this blessed attempt, he has
been completely successful. Many proofs he
150 EVELYN HARCOURT.
has, with incredible labour and ingenuity,
brought to light, all of which tend to show
that that overwhelming calamity was really,
as has been always supposed, the result of
accident, and not of anything like intention on
the part of my husband.
" The evidence at the inquest, which I had
never read at the time, nor even heard the par-
ticulars of, but of which he has now procured
for me a correct copy — the state of the gun,
which, it appears, was highly dangerous — and,
above all, a long conversation which took place
immediately before the accident between my
husband and the clergyman of the place,
during which the former discussed, with per-
fect calmness and at length, the symptoms of
my mental alienation, as he termed it, and
asked the opinion of the latter as to the ad-
visableness of taking me at once to London
for medical advice ; all these, and many other
proofs which I cannot trust myself to speak
upon, have succeeded in convincing me that
EVELYN HARCOURT. 151
that horror, at least, I have not to answer
for. / am guiltless of his blood ! And oh !
the blessmg of this conviction — how can
I describe it ? Dudley has indeed repaid
my hatred with kindness — he has rewarded
me for the confidence I showed him ; and
never — never can I repay him for the
weight of obligation under which he has
laid me ! Has he not given me back the
peace I had thought never to enjoy again in
She turned aside for a few moments, and
wiped away a few tears which she could not
restrain. And what joy for Helen ! She
pressed her hand, but she could not speak.
Her own heart was too full.
" Enough of this," said Lady Charles a
short time after ; " never let iis allude to this
subject again. And now," she continued, en-
deavouring to resume her former cheerful
manner, " do you not wonder, Helen, how I
152 EVELYN HARCOURT.
" Indeed I do — and you promised you would
" So I will, presently. But first, do you
not think this place perfection ?"
" 1 always did," said she. "It was always
my beau ideal of a home. I used to think I
would rather spend my life here than even at
dear old Oriel ; — I would certainly far rather
possess it of the two. Well do I remember
how bitterly Evelyn and I cried when we
heard it was to be sold, though we were but
children at that time. Colonel Long is an
" He was the person who bought it, you
know ; it belongs to him now."
" Yes, now : he lent it to Mrs. Harry."
" It is not his any longer, however."
" My dear friend, I assure you it
EVELYN HARCOURT. 153
" Mj darling Helen, for once you are wrong.
It was his — it no longer is so."
Helen looked at her in surprise.
" Then he has sold it within the last few
" So he has."
" And who has bought it ?"
" That is of no consequence. The present
proprietor of Bridge Priory now stands beside
Helen looked round in search of this mys-
terious individual, but, seeing no one, she
began to fear that the mind of her friend must
in reality be somewhat deranged.
" Yes, Helen," resumed Lady Charles more
gravely, " I only speak the truth, though you
look as if you thought me out of my senses.
This 'place now belongs to you. I told you
that I had made up my mind to receive the
legacy that had been bequeathed to me by
my aunt, who was a species of miser, and
really a little out of her mind — at least, /
154 EVELYN HARCOURT.
always thought so. That legacy had become
Dudley's, as the next heir, but of course he
was only too delighted to abandon it to me.
It will afford me an income of more than three
thousand a year. I need not tell you that it
was for youT sake I accepted this money;
but for you, I never would have touched a
farthing of it : for what is wealth to me ? —
nothing ; except inasmuch as I can make it
serviceable to you. For your sake, it is pre-
"As soon as my business in London was
ended, I came down here, and, with the aid
of Dudley's influence over his cousin, a bar-
gain was speedily struck for this property be-
tween him and me. The sum was no object
to me, and the place hardly any to him.
Twelve hundred a year is now settled upon
you completely independently of me, and the
lawyers are at this moment engaged upon the
title-deeds of this estate. When those are
completed, it will be yours for life, and, should
EVELYN HARCOURT. 155
you die before Evelyn, she will inherit it after
you, so that you may at least feel satisfied
that she will at all times possess a home of her
But Helen was gazing at her in speechless as-
tonishment. She could not believe it. Twelve
hundred a year ! Bridge Priory hers ! . . .
*' Now come and see your new possessions,''
said Lady Charles, gently drawing her towards
In the cedar drawing-room were Evelyn's
harp and piano, and the various belongings of
both the friends scattered about, as though
this had been their home for some time past.
As they entered the room, Mrs. Hart ap-
peared, with a flushed countenance.
" Oh, ma'am ! — my dear mistress, let me —
let me wish you joy ! I have just heard...."
Helen looked from one to the other in
" Is this really true ? — have you done this
for me ?"
156 EVELYN HARCOURT.
" She finds it hard to believe I can do any-
thing for her, Mrs. Hart," observed Lady
Charles, smiling and turning to the maid.
" And no wonder ; the obligations have been
all on my side hitherto. But now, Helen,
you must come to your dressing-room — your
own particular room ; perhaps that may con-
vince you it is no dream."
So saying, and hurrying her up the stair-
case and along the passage to prevent her
having time for reflection, she opened a door,
and fairly pushed her into a small but beauti-
fully furnished apartment, whose windows
looked upon the river.
There were all Helen's own particular trea-
sures there, arranged just as they had been at
Oriel ; even the very books, which she had ima-
gined to have been burnt, were most of them
on the bookshelves. The carpet was of the
self-same pattern ; the curtains of the identi-
cal chintz, only new ; it all looked precisely
like the little snuggery at Oriel, where her
EVELYN HARCOURT. 157
youth had been spent, only less faded, more
gay, more comfortable.
But there was one thing she did not recog-
nise; a large picture, concealed by folding-
doors, over the chimneypiece. She advanced,
and eagerly opened it. — It was a perfect like-
ness of her husband.
This was too much. She threw herself on
her knees before that silent imaf!:e of the bein^^
who was never absent from her thoughts; and,
whilst the tears poured down her cheeks, mur-
mured blessings and prayers for the friend
whose earnest affection had heaped such kind-
ness on her.
It was some moments before she rose from
that position ; her heart was too full for any-
thing but prayer. She felt almost as if she
had beheld him once more — as if he had been
actually there, beside her, participating in her
emotion and her gratitude.
She soon closed the doors of that most pre-
cious picture — no eyes but hers should look
158 EVELYN HARCOURT.
upon it in future. And oh, how she should
love that room for its sake ! . . .
At the door she met Evelyn, with her
sightless eyes lighted up with such joy that
it was touching to see it ; and a little further
on, poor old Mrs. Jones, who was curtseying,
and smiling, and wiping hers with a corner of
her white apron ; and Betty Morgan, who had
lived at Oriel thirty-two years; and Anne
Hill, who had been upper-housemaid for nine-
teen ; and half a dozen of the oldest tenants,
who had made bold to come and tell her how
thankful they were to see her amongst them
again, for it reminded them of old times.
And whilst her eyes were still wet with the
tears the sight of these old friends occasioned,
she was told she must go down, and speak to
others who were waiting outside, too timid
and too numerous to enter ; her own school-
children, too — for they one and all declared
they could not go till they had obtained one
glimpse of her.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 59
Helen went down ; but when she saw the
crowd before the door, young and old, strong
and weak, pressing into the porch, and beheld
many an old familiar face, older and more
withered than when last she saw it, she was
" God bless you ! God bless you !" was
all she could say ; she covered her face with
her hands, and burst into tears. Her emo-
tion was catching — there was not a dry eye
amongst that crowd.
" Ah, Miss Helen, you're not come back as
ye went ; but ye'll find us the same."
" Ye'll fret less among your own folks ;
and you're close to them that is gone —
the dear old master, and the pretty babe."
" You look sadly — but no wonder !"
" We hear you're come back rich — so much
the better !"
" Blessings on you for having bought the
old place !"
These and innumerable similar observations
160 EVELYN HARCOURT.
burst from many an untutored lip, as she
stood there in her deep mourning dress — her
usually pale face slightly flushed with emo-
tion. And soon she had succeeded in mas-
tering her feelings, and could grasp their
eager outstretched hands, and address a
friendly word to each ; and reply to the end-
less inquiries on all sides respecting poor dear
Miss Harcourt, who, from a feeling easily
to be understood, would not be persuaded
to come out to them herself, but had
heard all that passed, from a side window,
and had been almost as much agitated as
And then Helen had to explain to them
that she had not come back rich, as they sup-
posed ; and that, although she had always
resolved to spend the remainder of her days
amongst them, it would have been in a far
humbler home than this, but for the gene-
rosity of a dear friend. Lady Charles Pembury,
who had bought the Priory in order to bestow
EVELYN HARCOURT. 161
it upon her, and who wanted to make her rich
These words were no sooner uttered, than
some one was heard to exclaim, " Three cheers
for that lady — God bless her!" and then voices
rent the air ; and young and old, men and
women, joined together in raising many a
hearty and enthusiastic cheer for the generous
being who had restored their own Miss Helen,
as they persisted in calling her, to her people
once more !
What a strange morning that was — with
its innumerable questions and explanations ;
and confessions on Lady Charles's part of the
various plots and contrivances with Adelaide
and Julia Eridge, w^ho were ready to do any
thing, take any trouble, for their own dear
Helen. The intentional loss of the pony's
shoe, and his consequent detention on. the
road, in order to admit of their servants and
belongings being removed by the short road
to the Priory before their arrival there ; the
162 EVELYN HARCOURT.
delight of the Penrhjns in general, and of
Owen in particular, whose grins had increased
to an alarming extent at being entrusted with
so important a secret ; the indefatigable en-
deavours of Adelaide and Julia to arrange
Helen's room as precisely after the model of
her Oriel one as possible ; their delight when
the picture of Frederic arrived, which they
had had copied from a miniature lent them by
their grandfather — all these formed both in-
teresting and inexhaustible topics of conversa-
And never had Helen beheld anything like
the expression of happiness upon the face of
the Wynnesland Recluse that animated it now.
She looked positively handsome !
" I am indeed happy to-day," replied Lady
Charles, in answer to Helen's remark on the
subject. '^ What happiness can equal that of
giving you pleasure, my Helen — of seeing you
appreciated, as you are here ? But you have
not yet invited me to your new home ; though
EVELYN HARCOURT. 168
I warn you that I must see you fairly esta-
blished in it, before I seek one for myself?"
" Is not my home ever yours ?" cried Helen,
throwing her arms around her ; " and do you
imagine that I would live here without you ?"
1 64 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Thy life, thy passion, thus to pour thy soul
Into the raptured breathings of thy lyre.
First of your kind — society divine
Still mount my soaring soul to thoughts like yours.
.... vfiih sense refined.
Learning digested well — exalted faith,
Unstudied wit . . .
. . . the green hills
Are clothed with early blossoms — and the bills
Of summer birds sing welcome as we pass —
Flowers fresh in hue, and many in their class.
Implore the pausing step, and with their dyes
Dance in the soft breeze in a fairy mass ;
The sweetness of the violet's deep blue eyes.
Kissed by the breath of heaven, seems coloured by its skies.
To Helen, the riches thus bestowed upon
her were rather irksome than otherwise ; and
many and earnest were the arguments with
EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 60
which she endeavoured to persuade Lady
Charles to retain them herself. But she soon
became convinced that there was no kindness
in urging this, for it was seeking to deprive
the poor creature of the only pleasure to
which she was still alive. As long as she be-
lieved she was benefitting Helen, she was
comparatively happy ; and, excepting for
that object, riches were to her utterly value-
less. She had retained, indeed, a few hun-
dreds a year for herself, the greater part of
which she intended to spend upon objects of
charity ; and she had settled a large yearly
sum upon Evelyn, not only in order that she
might have the comfort of feeling herself in-
dependent, but that she, too, debarred as
she was from so many of the enjoyments of
life, might at least be able to command that
of doinof orood to others.
It was about this time that, to Evelyn's
great surprise, a letter arrived from Lady
Truro full of the most earnest expressions of
166 EVELYN HARCOURT.
gratitude for the assistance she had so nobly
rendered in the moment of her utmost need,
and wonder at her being able to command so
large a sum. Lady Charles was then obliged
to explain the mystery, and to confess that,
having heard through Mr. Chisholm of Lady
Truro's misfortunes and difficulties, she had
sent her the exact sum she required to pay
her debts at Naples, in Evelyn's name ; feel-
ing sure that, in so doing, she was only be-
stowing what Evelyn would bestow herself as
soon as she had the means. She had pur-
posely refrained, she said, from sending more,
in order that she might not deprive her of the
pleasure of doing what her own generosity
Evelyn no sooner heard this than she wrote,
as well as her loss of sight would permit, a
letter full of tenderness and sympathy ; en-
treating her cousin to take shelter with them
from the storms of life, and assuring her that
kind and warm hearts would welcome her to
EVELYN HARCOURT. 167
the Priory, where she might find 'peace at
last, if not happiness. A letter of credit for
a considerable sum accompanied this epistle,
and the strongest assurance that, whenever
she needed assistance, it would be most gladly
afforded by her.
And now Evelyn began to lay down for
herself a plan of life to which she resolved
steadily to adhere during the melancholy years
that might still remain to her of existence.
She had altered singularly of late. Instead
of the apathetic indifference that had marked
her conduct and manner for so long a time,
nothing was more remarkable now than her
eager desire to do the little in her power for
every one around her, and the atfectionate
interest she manifested in all that concerned
them. She was still sad, indeed ; perhaps more
so than ever ; but there was no Ioniser ano^er
or bitterness in her melancholy. She had
resigned herself to her infirmity as to the will
of Providence; and, though hope and hap-
168 EVELYN HARCOURT.
pin ess were over for her in this world, there
was ever the prospect of another and a better,
where the shadows should fall from her eyes,
and they should open on purer skies, and a
more glorious sun. Oh ! how she longed for
the time of that renewed and perfect vision !
At times, indeed, there would come over
her bitter recollections of the past — so bitter,
that she could scarcely bear up against them,
and she would weep tears of agony as intense
as even the first had been. At times, too,
the consciousness of her infirmity would come
upon her with such tremendous force, that
she would involuntarily ask herself the dread-
ful question, whether she could bear it, whe-
ther she could go on thus for ever ! But
these moments of intense anguish, during
which her spirit strove fiercely with its cala-
mity, were comparatively rare. A word or
two from Helen or Lady Charles — a solemn
air played to her — a beautiful verse of scrip-
ture, or a short prayer read, would soothe and
EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 69
recall her to herself at once ; and she would
turn to them with a gentle, sad smile, and tell
them it was over, and she was once more at
peace. That smile, oh ! it was indescribably
touching ! It moved her companions far
more than did her tears; for it expressed
such hopeless yet resigned sorrow !
She now no longer devoted her whole time
to her favourite instruments. A large portion
of every morning was given up to as many of
the poor children as chose to come over to
the Priory and learn such things as she could
teach. These were not many, of course ; but
none of those who heard her simple and
touching exposition of the scriptures ever
forgot it ; and it was a beautiful thing to
see that poor blind girl surrounded by chil-
dren of all ages, whose eyes were intently
fixed upon the orbs that could not see, ex-
pounding to them those words of life, which,
day by day, inspired her own spirit with such
peace and resignation.
VOL. 111. I
1 70 EVELYN HARCOURT.
But this was not all she taught them. She
became marvellously expert in works of all
kinds ; and many a little girl was taught to
knit and sew by her ; she exercised them in
arithmetic, till they learnt to reckon in their
heads almost as rapidly as on paper; — she
told them stories, composing them as she
went, to which they listened with breathless
interest ; — and the effect she produced upon
the intellects of these children in a short
time was so extraordinary, that no one who
had not witnessed could have imagined it.
Gifted in all things, Evelyn had a singular
and graphic power of describing the creations
of her own vivid fancy ; and, whatever the
subject, whether grave or gay, solemn or
simple, she contrived to bring it down to the
comprehension of her hearers, and to interest
them so intensely in it as to rivet their
attention and charm their sense.
In a short time, the intellects that had
never been awakened, the energies that had
EVELYN HARCOURT. 171
lain totally dormant till roused by the kind-
ling touch of hers, began to be excited. Ima-
gination — a love of the beautiful, the good,
and true — began to spring up in little hearts
that had hitherto known scarcely any sensa-
tion, or, if any, only quarrelsome or selfish
ones. Strange, the humanizing effect of one
noble and cultivated intellect, one benevolent
and religious spirit, upon the minds of a mass
of human beings, however ignorant, brutalized,
or selfish !
Evelyn had plenty of innocent rewards for
the best of her little scholars, and her in-
structions generally ended with what they
loved better than all — music and dancing.
She taught them to sing hymns ; and, guided
by her voice, they soon learnt to do so with
wonderful precision ; — she played to them
lively airs, and little feet jumped about mer-
rily to the sound of her music ; — she sang to
them simple ballads, suited to their compre-
hension, and they listened entranced ; — and
] 72 EVELYN HARCOURT.
poetry and melody first found an echo in the
bosoms of these simple cottage children.
And they never forgot her ; her influence
remained long after her instructions had
ceased, and the beautiful blind lady became
a kind of legend in that part of the country.
During a certain part of the day, Helen and
Lady Charles read aloud, and then Evelyn
was not idle. Her active finders were em-
ployed upon some useful work ; she made
clothes for the poor ; and many a new-born
infant was arrayed for the first time in clothes
of her making, to the delight of its mother,
who considered it as a sure proof of luck ;
and many a hard-working labourer or old
woman, " tormented with the rheumatiz,"
rejoiced in the warm socks or mittens she
But by far the happiest period of her day
was that devoted to her music. Then, in-
deed, she was once more Arthur's ; then she
could think of him, speak to him, tell him he
EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 73
was not forgotten. The rest of the day was
devoted to duty^ but this was delight. She
would sing the most exquisite ballads, and
words of touching sadness, as though he were
listening beside her. She would describe to
him her sufferings, her infirmity, with such
affecting minuteness, and yet such beauty of
language, that it was impossible to hear her
without tears. Sometimes she would reproach
him for abandoning her in her desolation, and
entreat him passionately to return to her, if
but for a time, that she might once more feel
the touch of his hand, though she never might
gaze upon his face again. But she soon re-
pented of this wish. It was better as it was.
He would be too deeply grieved to see her so
afflicted ; and above, in the starry skies, she
might look for him again. Often, too often,
overpowered by the recollections her own
melodies had recalled, she would break off
suddenly, and weep long and bitterly.
The talent she possessed was so striking
174 EVELYN HARCOURT.
and so rare, that it soon became much talked
of, and people would sometimes come from a
distance, with a request to be allowed to hear
her sing without her knowledge, if only for a
few moments. But it was not often that
Helen would permit this. It seemed to her
like intruding upon the privacy of her
thoughts, and lifting the veil from sorrows
and struggles which it was not for the world
to enter into, or meddle with. Evelyn, how-
ever, was always ready to exercise her talent
for any one who desired it ; and for strangers,
or even her inferiors, she would sing with as
much willingness as for her own immediate
friends, though her compositions on such
occasions were not to be compared to those
of her own solitary hours. It would be dif-
ficult to describe the interest she excited in
the immediate neighbourhood of the Priory ;
and indeed every where, where her name was
mentioned, or her story known. Her extreme
beauty, which was, if possible, more striking
EVELYN HARCOURT. 175
than ever — her remarkable talents, her me^
lancholy history, and the infirmity which she
bore with such touching resignation, as well
as her benevolent and perfect life — all these
naturally excited the intense sympathy and
regard of all classes. By the poor she was
looked upon as a sort of divinity — something
too bright and beautiful almost for this world ;
and by the rich with tenderness, respect, and
admiration. People would come from far, in
the mere hope of catching a glimpse of her
as she took her daily walk ; and she w^as con-
sidered a kind of curiosity in that country,
better worth seeing than had been the ladies
of Llangollen. The pretty schoolhouse that
was building at her expense, just outside the
Priory gates, was frequently visited by par-
ties who never could ask questions enough
concerning her, and who thought themselves
fortunate indeed, if she chanced to take her
daily walk in that direction, whilst they
176 EVELYN HARCOURT.
It was not only the poor around the Priory
who benefitted by the munificent charities of
its inmates. Many a sufferer was relieved by
the bounty that proceeded from thence, who
never even knew the names of his benefactors.
The three Recluses of Eridge made it their
business to find out misery, in whatever shape
or place it existed, at least as far as they
could; and wherever money could relieve it,
money was given. Their own wants and ex-
penses were so simple, that they could well
spare a large sum for such benevolent pur-
poses. Others also were made glad by their
newly-acquired riches. The young Percys
were not only now better dressed, but better
educated ; and many a timely present rejoiced
the hearts of the Heneage children, and de-
lighted their parents. In short, Lady Charles
enjoyed to her heart's content the only plea-
sure she was now capable of feeling — that of
knowing that her wealth was the continual
means of gratification to Helen, through
EVELYN HARCOURT. 177
others, whom she was, by it, enabled to
The winter had now set in, and with it
came one great pleasure for Evelyn, the
greater because it was unexpected. Helen
entered the room one day with a packet in
her hand, and a smile on her countenance.
** What do you think I have got for you,
dear Evelyn ?" said she ; and Evelyn knew by
the tone that it was something peculiarly
" What is it?" inquired she, raising her
beautiful head, and by a gesture full of inde-
scribable grace tossing back her long black
ringlets, " what is it ?"
" A new work, by Arthur Sherborne."
Oh, how the soft cheek flushed, and the
sightless eyes sparkled at those words !
"By Arthur?... Oh, Helen!...."
Her lip quivered, and she trembled — always
with her a symptom of intense emotion.
" Where is it ? — ^have you got it there ?"
178 EVELYN HARCOURT.
" I have, dearest— here it is."
"And is he?., .is he ?...."
She could utter no more, but it was not
needed ; Helen could well understand her
'' He is not in England, dear Evelyn ; from
what I can learn, he is still in Africa, and the
manuscript of this work was sent over to his
publishers some time ago."
She did not add, that her constant and in-
defatigable inquiries had at length elicited
the fact, that he had been dreadfully ill ;
and that, when the latest accounts arrived,
they brought the news that his life was
Evelyn sighed heavily; and, folding her
hands together, remained for some moments
silent. Suddenly, however, she remembered
the book, and again her speaking countenance
lighted up with eager animation.
" Where is it ? — where is it ?" cried she.
Helen gave it to her.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 179
" Three volumes — three whole Yoliiraes !"
She took them up, and began to feel them
one by one — their length, their breadth, their
thickness ; then she pressed them passionately
to her lips, and murmured, as though to her-
self, "^ voice from him! . ..."
'' How singular !" said Helen ; " the name
of it is, 'A Voice from the Wilderness,'"''
Evelyn started, and taking the first volume
turned to the title-page, and passed her hand
slowly over it. Then, in the midst of the
burning desire, the intense eagerness, to pos-
sess herself of those thoughts, to read the
messages of his soul to hers, to devour the
pages, on every one of which he had stamped
his imao-e — a consciousness of her utter ina-
bility came over her. She longed to impress
those words upon her heart, and yet she could
not read one of them. She dropped her head
upon her hands, and wept.
*' Alas, when he spoke to me from the wil-
derness, he knew not that I was blind ! "
180 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Helen strove to soothe her. Too well she
understood the feelings that made her weep
then ; and, instead of chiding, she wept with
her. But when her emotion had spent itself —
when at length she had become calm, the
gentle, patient Helen took up the book, and
unasked, but unforbidden, began to read.
And soon all sorrow, and nearly all recollec-
tion of sorrow, vanished before those words
of unutterable interest ; — Evelyn sat en-
tranced. It was indeed a voice from his soul
to hers — she recognized him in every page —
in every line. He had been full of her remem-
brance when he wrote that book. And oh !
what a treasure he had sent her across the sea !
Who can tell the tears that were shed before
that story was ended ; — the interest, harrowing
and intense, with which it was devoured ! —
how, after each reading, she counted the
pages that remained, mourning sadly over
their rapidly diminishing numbers ! — how her
eye kindled, and her cheek flushed at every
EVELYN HARCOURT. 181
beautiful passage — every sublime description
— every noble and inspiring thought ! And
when, with that magical charm that hovered
around his pen, unequalled by any author of
modern times, he spoke of Love, describing
its exalted and divine nature with that pas-
sionate tenderness which was so peculiarly his
own, how her frame trembled and her lip
quivered with irrepressible emotion ! It is
not too much to say, that that book was well
nigh learnt by heart : — all its most exquisite
passages she involuntarily committed to me-
mory, simply from hearing them repeated
again and again. But this she had done
before with all his other works.
One thing occasioned her untold delight ; —
the whole tone of this work was melancholy —
indescribably melancholy. A vein of sadness ran
throughout it, which was continually apparent
to her. It was written by one who mourned the
loss of something precious ; — for whom life had
lost its charm— for whom the sunlight had
1 82 EVELYN HARCOURT.
departed. Yet it was so beautiful in its sadness,
and there were so many passages which were
immediately addressed to her ! she felt it — she
knew it... Alas ! how little did she imagine that
he, for w^hom she pined so incessantly, had long
thought of her as of an angel in the courts
above ; and that, if he did address himself to
her, it was as one removed far beyond this
dreary world, to happier scenes, where he ever
panted to follow ! —
Thus the winter passed away ; and soon
the spring came dancing forth, and the river
sparkled in the merry sunlight, and reflected
back skies of brightest blue ; and the garden
and the woods were fragrant with the breath
of violets, and the shady spot beside the pool
became a mass of verdure, and myriads of
wild flowers of every hue were springing up
by the wayside, and in the smiling meadows,
sending up welcome odours to the clear
air. And the hedo^e-rows were alive with
EVELYN HARCOURT. 183
merriest music, and the cuckoo's note was
heard in the distance, and the may and the
horse-chestnut put forth their exquisite blos-
soms, and the old Priory looked gay once
more, with its graceful creepers and roses that
peeped lovingly in at its beautiful windows.
And in the old churchyard, the tall grass was
springing luxuriantly, and pale primroses and
violets, and many an humbler flower besides,
were adorning the graves of the dead ; — and
all in that ancient, solemn place looked, as it
should do, hopeful and serene. But one spot,
railed round close to the church, was bloominor
more than all, for the hand of a mother had
been there ; and she it was who had planted
those weeping willows, and the rose-trees,
whose buds were now beginning to blossom,
and her love and her undying recollection had
hallowed that spot of rest.
And now, day by day, she comes and
breathes a prayer upon that grave, for the
husband who sleeps not there, and the infant
184 EVELYN HARCOURT.
who rests beneath. The kind old man, too,
is not forgotten ; — her pious hand has raised
to him a tribute of grateful recollection.
Within the church is a marble tablet, recording,
in a few simple lines, the heroic act of self-
devotion by which he lost his life. Inex-
pressibly touching are those few lines ; speak-
ing higher things in praise of that venerable
man than the most elaborate epitaph ; — no
one can pass them by unmoved ; and few
without a tear. Indeed, that ancient church,
but little known before, has become an object
of singular interest of late.
But, though the glad earth smiled, and all
things seemed to revive with the balmy airs
and freshening showers of spring, it brought
but little change to the inmates of the Priory.
One, indeed, of that melancholy group seemed
rather to be fading away in this season of
hope, like a pale autumnal flower. Helen
was of so quiet and reserved a disposition,
that sorrow with her never told its tale at
EVELYN HARCOURT. 185
once ; but gradually, like an insidious disease
whose growth is scarcely noticed, it wore
away her strength, and attacked the very
mainsprings of her life. The mighty effort
she had made for Evelyn's sake, at the time
of her child's death, had done for her the work
of years. There had been no outlet to her
agony at that period ; — no burst of passion,
relieving itself by its own violence ; — no re-
action afterwards. From first to last, all
had been outwardly calm; but the anguish
that could not then find a vent had worn
away her heart; and now it told upon her
It was well for Evelyn that she could not
see the pale and wasted cheek, the hollow eye,
the stooping form of her on whom all her
hopes now centred ; — but there was one who
marked them with many a heartfelt pang.
Lady Charles had long observed the change
in Helen's looks; and again and again had
she entreated her to seek advice, and consent
186 EVELYN HARCOURT.
to be treated as an invalid. But she ever re-
plied, what was in fact the case, that she felt
no pain, no ailment of any kind, for which she
could consult a doctor. It was the mind, to
which no physician could minister, which
preyed upon her bodily frame, and gradually
undermined its strength ; — and Lady Charles
ever hoped that time, which brings such heal-
ing on its wings, might end by soothing at
least the wounds she well knew it could not
close. Time, however, seemed to bring no
change, except the gradual diminution yet
more of strength, and flesh, and appetite.
Still there was no pain — no apparent disease ;
— life with her was wearing away gently,
and without a struggle.
At length, however, her weakness increased
so much, that even Evelyn began to be sensible
of it, and to express uneasiness and alarm.
Then she consented to seek advice ; and the
physician who had attended her from child-
hood was sent for and consulted. He could
EVELYN HAKCOURT. 187
prescribe little, except gentle stimulants and
change of air ; and, unwilling as she was to
leave her home, for the sake of her friends she
consented to do so, and they all accordingly
removed to the nearest place on the sea-coast.
There, however, for the first time, she became
really ill ; and such was the agony of poor
Evelyn, that nothing would induce her to
leave the bedside of her friend, even for a mo-
ment. There she sat, hour after hour, day
after day, singing low ballads, or listening
intently to the sound of her breathing, whilst
she slept, in order to discover from it whether
the fever were diminished. Not even to Lady
Charles would she resign the precious privilege
of that long and anxious watching.
At length, however, Helen rallied ; and her
first eager entreaty, on being pronounced
better, was to be allowed to return to Bridge.
And, when once more in that beloved spot,
something like symptoms of returning strength
began to show themselves. A faint tinge
188 EVELYN HARCOURT.
began to suffuse her usually pale cheek, and
her eyes sparkled with a brighter lustre.
What joy for Evelyn ! she could not see those
changes, indeed, but she discerned them. By
a wonderful instinct, she seemed to know
when Helen was better. And never, till
lately, had she felt how dear that kind com-
panion was ; — nor till she had feared to lose
her, had she realized to herself the fervour
with which her soul had attached itself to
Helen's ; — Helen, who was to her light, sun-
shine, sight, everything !
EVELYN HARCOURT. 189
It is the hour when from the boughs
The nightingale's high note is heard;
It is the hour when lover's vows
Seem sweet in every whispered word ;
And gentle winds and waters near
IVIake music to the lonely ear.
And her cheek grows pale, and her heart beats quick ;
There whispers a voice through the rustling leaves —
A moment more, and they shall meet —
One lovely evening, in the beginning of
July, Evelyn was sitting in her favourite spot
beneath the avenue of lime-trees, where her
harp had been removed, for her hour of music
was come ; and it w^as ever amidst the sweet
influences and sounds of nature that she felt
she could best attune her heart and voice to
190 EVELYN HARCOURT.
She had dreamt, the night before, a strange,
eventful dream, and she vainly strove to shake
off the impression it had produced. She fan-
cied she had recovered her sight, and that
she was walking by the beautiful river at
Eridge, alone, and gazing with sensations of
untold delight into its glassy depths, where
the blue sky was ever changefully reflected ;
and she saw the willow boughs bending their
graceful branches to the stream as it rippled
by, and the summer flies sporting merrily
upon its surface, and the " fitful and glad
music " of the birds was floating on the
Then suddenly the scene changed, and she
found herself at Oriel, in the ancient library,
and the venerable patriarch was reading in his
silver-clasped Bible, and all were grouped
around, as in the quiet evenings of her youth.
And Helen's child was there — a little, fair-
haired boy. But all at once the child's face
turned pale — and then a mist swam before
EVELYN HARCOURT. 191
her eyes, and when she gazed again, he was
lying on a little bed in the turret chamber,
dead — quite dead — and a wreath of flowers
was round his brow, but it was cold and
wan, like marble. And Helen sat beside him,
with her eyes fixed on his silent countenance,
and such a look of speechless agony in hers ! —
Evelyn could not bear it.
Then it seemed to her as if the child had
suddenly become an angel, and was beckon-
ing to his mother from clouds of exquisite
and shining beauty to follow where he was ;
and she was rising from her sight, but Evelyn
seized her dress, and with passionate entreaties
clung to it, and implored her not to go — not
to leave her to desolation — to madness ; and
in the agony of that fear — that passionate
struo-ole — she awoke to find it all — even her
recovered sight — a dream !
This vision had haunted her even in her
wakinof hours. It was strano^e that ever in
her sleep she imagined she could see. But
192 EVELYN HARCOURT.
now the hour was so calm, the perfumed air
so balmy, the mysterious whispering of the
trees so soothing and delicious, that her spirit
for the moment felt at peace, though still
" Beautiful, happy things that sport about,"
murmured she, half aloud, " I hear your voices
in the breezy air — would I could see you !
But no ! I am — I must ever be — alone with
She sat for some time, with one hand rest-
ing on her harp, lost in abstraction. How
singularly beautiful she was in that attitude !
what a subject for a picture ! The small head,
slightly upturned — the heavy masses of black
silken hair rolled round and round with the
most unstudied carelessness, and yet the clas-
sical effect of a Grecian statue — the long,
shining ringlets, parting naturally over a brow
not less smooth and white than Parian marble
— the glorious, Asiatic eyes, sightless, but
still so beautiful, with their long, pencilled
EVELYN HARCOURT, 193
lashes, hanging drowsily over those melan-
choly depths — the exquisitely chiselled nose
— the mouth, with its full, perfect lips, on
which every varying expression of her mind
was seen to dwell — the unconscious grace of
her attitude — the tall and exquisitely propor-
tioned figure — all combined to render her as
lovely and enchanting a vision as ever blessed
a poet's dream, or inspired an artist's pencil.
Even the very dress she wore, simple as it
was, added to the general effect of the pic-
ture, as its light folds fell gracefully around
It was certainly impossible to behold any-
thing more lovely than Evelyn Harcourt at
She had sat for some time thus, lost in
thought; at length, striking a few rapid
chords, she began an impassioned air, which
gradually, however, sank to a low and mourn-
ful measure, as the following words expressed
her painful sense of her infirmity.
VOL. III. K
194 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Flowers are bloominground ; their subtle essence
Steals o'er my senses with a magic power :
The Past comes back — the glorious effervescence
Of childhood's hour.
Flowers are blooming round : I feel them flinging
Millions of odours to the summer sky —
Emblems of man — for one brief space upspringing,
Then soon — to die !
For me, sweet flowers, your brilliant hues are over.
Vain are your fairy forms, though Heaven -designed,
Ye cannot pierce the shades these eyeballs cover,
For I am blind !
To me this beauteous earth is cold and dreary,
No ray shines in upon my darkened sight ;
To me the morn is sad, the eve is weary —
For both are night !
Oh, not for me that sky serene and vaulted.
Those dark blue depths on which I loved to gaze
With earnest eyes, and soul to Heaven exalted.
In other days.
Nor yet those moonlit clouds, whose feathery gleaming
Shines like the wings of white-robed seraphim —
Nor the mysterious stars : to me their beaming
Long has been dim.
Mine is a darksome prison — oh, how lonely !
Never on earth can I escape its gloom :
There is no hope for me — ^no change — save only
That of the tomb !
e\t:lyn harcourt. 195
As these last words died away in mournful
murmurs on her lips, her hands fell powerless
from the instrument, and large tears slowly
coursed each other down her cheeks.
Suddenly, a faint sigh broke upon her ear.
She started ; but, supposing it to be Helen,
who had stolen near her unperceived, and
grieved that she should have surprised her in
so melancholy a mood, she made an effort to
recover herself, and, hastily wiping away her
tears, exclaimed —
" Ah, Helen ! you were wrong to steal
upon me so. I did not know you were
But no answer was returned ; and she
almost fancied she could catch suppressed
" Helen — dearest Helen — do not grieve for
me. Indeed it was nothing — all folly — and
it is over now "
But a voice seemed to whisper —
" Evelyn ! — my Evelyn.... !"
196 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Not more rapid is the passage of light —
not more sudden is the shock of electricity —
than was the start that Evelyn made at those
sounds Then her head remained raised,
her eyeballs distended, her lips parted — she
breathed not, she moved not ; there she was,
a perfect picture of agonizing, intense expecta-
But a moment or two had elapsed, and
there was no repetition of those sounds —
to her ear, at least. Then her head drooped,
the colour died away from her cheeks, leaving
them of an ashy paleness, and she murmured,
in a tone of indescribable sadness —
" Dreaming again !....How strange !"
" No, my Evelyn, it is no dream," mur-
mured the same low, broken voice beside her.
" Alas ! have you forgotten me ?"
" Forgotten !" cried Evelyn, wildly spring-
ing to her feet, and stretching out her arms
in the direction whence those sounds pro-
ceeded — "who asks me that? Ah! is
EVELYN HARCOURT. 197
it you, Arthur? — come once more? —
Her outstretched hands were gently seized,
and pressed to lips which devoured them with
frantic kisses, whilst tears — warm, gushing
tears — fell fast upon them.
**It is he!" she cried, in her turn seizing
his hands ; " it is Arthur — 9Jii/ Arthur re-
turned to me! — Oh, Helen, Helen! he has
sought me — he has found me ; these are his
tears — and he is weeping for me Ah ! it is
too much.... !"
As she uttered, or rather shrieked forth,
these broken sentences with a rapidity of
utterance of which no words can give but a
faint idea, her breath came short and quick,
the colour totally forsook her cheeks, and
she fell back breathless and fainting in his
Even then she was conscious of a strange
sensation of dreamy ecstasy. She felt, rather
than knew, that he was supporting her — that
198 EVELYN HARCOURT.
lie was straining her wildly to his bosom, im-
printing burning kisses upon her cheek, her
brow, her lips....
Oh ! that she could but die thus !
EVELYN UARCOURT. 199
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods ;
There is a rapture on the lonely shore.
Death shuns the wretch that fain the blow would meet.
And midnight listens to the lion's roar,
And long, long deserts scorch the camel's foot.
When Arthur Sherborne had quitted Eng-
land, Evelyn's dreadful illness was just begin-
ning. He heard of it, however, first abroad ;
and that her life was in the greatest possible
danger. The next tidings that reached him
were, that she had been removed to a mad-
house, without hope of recovery. — A short
time after, he was told that she was dead.
Up to that period, he had continued to
200 EVELYN HARCOURT.
cherish a nameless, undefined hope connected
with her ; — but from that hour he grew reck-
less ; — he cared not what became of him.
She — the sweet idol he had enshrined within
his secret soul— was rudely torn away from
it ; — she was too beautiful for earth, and on
earth he should see her no more. That she
had loved him to the end, he doubted not. She
had been true to the last ; — her coldness had
been assumed — her rejection of him forced
upon her. They had killed her amongst
them ; those cruel, worldly beings with whom
her lot had been cast — they had trampled
upon her innocent and beautiful nature, and
destroyed the loveliest blossom the world ever
produced. He strove to forgive them ; but it
was hard to do so, when he remembered her.
Then his heart became completely seared.
He had never loved before ; and this, his first
deep, passionate love, had wound itself round
every fibre of his frame— identified itself
with every sensation of his high and contem-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 201
plative nature. He cared not where lie went,
nor what befel him, so he only escaped far,
far from the land where they had destroyed
her. He plunged into the deserts of Africa,
and for months and months wandered about
amongst those burning wilds, without com-
panions, except the guides and black servants
who accompanied him. He felt a desperate
delight in braving danger of every kind ; —
death would, at that time, have been far from
unwelcome. But it seemed as if he bore
about with him a charmed life ; nothing had
power to harm him. In innumerable struggles
with the wild beasts of the forest, he inva-
riably came oiF victorious; his very indifference
to life tending to preserve it, for it lent him
coolness and courage in the moment of utmost
He still continued to write — it had become
almost a necessity to him ; — and was he not
writing of her f She was ever before him.
In his tent, in the lonely evening — in the
202 EVELYN HARCOURT.
calm moonlight that rested on those trackless
forests — or in the noonday glare of the burn-
ing desert, when everything that had the
breath of life sought a shelter from the heat,
and to raise a pebble from the scorching earth
was like touching a live coal ; — everywhere,
in every season, her sweet image was before
him, radiant and lovely as when first she con-
fessed her love to his enchanted ears, on the
banks of the beautiful Como. Few men ever
loved like this gifted and imaginative student ;
— his passion, like his genius, rose towering and
sublime, far above the comprehension of ordi-
nary men. He had not frittered away his
feelings in those passing fancies, those pas-
sions of a moment, which wear away the
freshness, and destroy the poetry of so many
hearts. He had never loved before ; and
long had he steeled himself against the capti-
vating influence of her image — but, when
once it had entered that ardent and untried
heart, whose treasures of deep feeling could
EVELYN HARCOURT. 203
never be exhausted, it stamped itself indelibly
there. The lonely and aspiring philosopher
could never love again.
It was whilst niourning thus, and making,
as it were, a grave for her in his own soul,
that he wrote that saddest and perhaps most
beautiful of all his compositions, to which we
have alluded in a recent chapter— as well as
the two succeeding works which afterwards
won for him an undying reputation. Not a
page, not a line, of these compositions, but
was inspired by the remembrance of her — con-
nected with her image. Yet, whilst England,
whilst Europe, were ringing with the sound of
his name, doing homage to a genius unri-
valled in his own times, scarcely any one, with
the exception of his publishers, knew even
what had become of the singular enchanter,
who, like a former mighty magician, was able
to charm all hearts, inspire all minds, and yet
kept himself aloof from their admiration and
their praise. How little could the world
204 EVELYN HARCOURT.
guess the secrets of that lofty nature, or ima-
gine the wild and lonely life led by the poet,
who spoke with such a powerful voice from
After some months of solitary wandering
in the desert, he returned to a place called
Colesbury, to make preparations for a still
longer expedition which he contemplated into
the region of the wild elephants, which inhabit
vast mountain ranges in the far, far interior,
where few, if any, Europeans have ever pene-
trated. He met with great opposition from
the native chiefs, who invariably endeavour to
prevent strangers from advancing into their
country, being fearful of losing the monopoly
of the trade in ivory. He was not, however,
one to be easily deterred from the prosecu-
tion of any object he had determined upon ;
and now, when he was careless and indifferent
to life, neither threats nor dangers were likely
to arrest him. Amid hardships and difficul-
ties which for him had a strange charm, he
EVELYN HARCOURT. 205
pursued his way; — achieved, with only a few
guides and Hottentot servants, what no well-
appointed party had ever been able to effect,
and penetrated further into the interior than
any white man who had preceded him. The
perils and excitement of that wild life were
to him strangely attractive. In the mighty
wilderness, he was conscious of a sense of
freedom — of repose — which he could no longer
feel in the haunts of civilizatiou. Far, far
from men, their passions and their crimes,
should henceforth be his home.
And in these vast and untrodden solitudes,
what sights of wonder daily met his view ; —
nature in her wildest majesty ! Sometimes
vast undulating plains, covered, not with
herds, but with one dense mass of antelopes,
for leagues and leagues on every side, pouring
on, on, in close and serried phalanx, far as the
eye could reach ; their countless myriads con-
cealing the earth for many hours, till all the
living things of creation might seem to be
206 EVELYN HARCOURT.
congregated there ; — sometimes a flight of
locusts, resembling vast clouds of mist rolling
along the mountain sides, and darkening the
sun; — or falling, thick and innumerable, like
snow-flakes in a heavy storm. The sport, too,
perilous and difficult, was still the grandest
and most exciting in the known world, em-
bracing every variety of wild animal, from
the lordly lion and majestic elephant, to the
fierce jackall and wild cat. Many were the
hair-breadth escapes, the imminent perils of
the fearless philosopher, in his struggles with
these monarchs of the desert. One, in parti-
cular, is not undeserving of notice.
One day, when accompanied only by two
of his Hottentot attendants, he unexpectedly
encountered a huge and savage lion in the
plain. There was no alternative but to at-
tack it — retreat was impossible. His first
barrel only smashed the animal's shoulder;
upon seeing which the two attendants for-
sook him and fled. That was indeed a mo-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 207
ment of fearful peril ! His life depended on
the small bit of lead in his left barrel, and
who would not have valued life under such
circumstances ? The lion charged him with
an appalling roar, and, springing with savage
and horrible violence upon his horse, lacerated
his haunches fearfully. At that instant,
Arthur Sherborne remembered his family
motto, ^ Deo adjiwante, non timendum^' and,
taking a cool and deliberate aim at the animal
from about five yards, rolled him over and
over in the dust, never to rise again ! At
this sight, the cowardly Hottentots came up
from a distance, remarking to one another in
Dutch that the haas (master) bore a charmed
After three months of solitary wanderings
and no inconsiderable hardships, sometimes
spending days and nights under heavy rain
with no better roof than a bushy tree, and
* This incident really took place precisely as here re-
208 EVELYN HARCOURT.
subsisting almost entirely upon the produce
of his gun, he once more turned his face in
the direction of the colony, having killed
every description of known quadruped in
countless numbers. But when within about
eight hundred miles of Colesbury, his horses
were suddenly seized with a distemper com-
mon in those regions at a particular season
of the year, and in one single fortnight he
lost them all, excepting two. His guides
next contrived to get hold of some brandy,
which was in one of his chests ; and, making
themselves horribly drunk on a difficult march
in his absence, broke the axle-tree of his
baggage-waggon — upon which, finding it im-
possible to repair the disaster, they, as well
as his Hottentot attendants, decamped in the
middle of the night, leaving him a solitary
wreck in the wilderness. There were no less
than three deserts of deep sand between him
and Colesbury ; and, in crossing these, he was
often three or four days without water, and
EVELYN HARCOURT. 209
on the point of perishing from fatigue and
exhaustion. To crown the whole, his last
remaining horse was one night killed by lions
within a few yards of where he lay. Then his
strength failed him, and, worn out by the
perils and fatigues he had undergone, he aban-
doned all thoughts of pursuing his journey,
and laid himself down on the parched sand,
convinced that a few short hours would put
a period to his sufferings and his life. In
this situation he was found by some mission-
aries, who, hearing he had been deserted by
his attendants, went out in search of him, and
conveyed him to Colesbury. But he had no
sooner arrived there than he was attacked by
a violent fever, the consequence, no doubt,
of all he had undergone, and from which his
life was, for some time, in the most imminent
danger. He struggled through it, however, but
never entirely rallied ; and a state of nervous de-
jection and debility came on, which threatened
to be more fatal to him than the fever itself.
210 EVELYN HARCOURT.
It was about this time that, happening to
fall in with an old English newspaper, giving
a detailed account of the fire at Oriel,
and the melancholy death of its venerable
proprietor, he perceived an incidental allusion
to Evelyn, whose illness, it was observed, had
been the probable means of preserving the
life of Mrs. Percy by preventing her from
accompanying her grandfather and infant to
Oriel. The unexpected and rapturous hope
that he drew from this paragraph, that the
report of Evelyn's death might have been
a false one, produced so violent an effect
upon his shattered nerves, as to induce a re-
currence of the fever scarcely less violent
than the original attack had been. No sooner,
however, was he able to leave his bed, than he
resolutely turned his face towards home, de-
termined to ascertain, with positive certainty,
the fate of his beloved. He suffered much
during the voyage, both in body and mind.
There were times when he felt a certainty of
EVELYN HARCOURT. 21 1
her death amounting to despair ; — others,
when hope rose high within him, and he felt,
he kneiv, she had not perished. x\nd, oh ! if
she were but living still, how he would watch
over her, cherish her, pray for her ! Even if
her reason should be still obscured, it mat-
tered not ; — the voice of Jiis deep love should
penetrate to her soul, and find an echo there ;
should pierce the gloom which the ambition,
the selfishness, and cruelty of others had so
long cast around it.
At length, once more, he set his foot on his
native land — the mere wreck of what he had
been, and hurried immediately to London,
where his inquiries soon elicited the wished-
for information. She lived! — it was enough !
Full of an ecstasy of gladness, which
changed for him the face of all creation, he
hurried into Wales.
When he arrived at Eridge, it chanced that
Helen was out; she had gone with Lady
Charles but a few moments before into the
212 EVELYN HARCOURT.
villao:e. Announcino^ himself to the servant
of an old friend of Mrs. Percy's, he requested
permission to saunter about in the pleasure-
grounds till her return, which was very soon
expected. This was, of course, immediately
granted ; but the man, pointing in the direc-
tion of the avenue, observed that Miss Har-
court was playing there, and might be startled
if he went too near her ; he could, however,
hear the singing perfectly, if he should wish it,
from the beech-tree seat close by.
Arthur Sherborne put a powerful check upon
himself whilst listening to these words ; and,
having succeeded in mastering all outward
signs of emotion, with a gliding and noiseless
step drew near to the spot where she was.
For some moments, he remained gazing upon
her as though spell -bound. There she was —
more like a vision of the skies than a being of
this world — lovelier, far lovelier, in his eyes,
than she had been in the proudest days of
her triumphant beauty. There she was — she.
EVEON HARCOURT. 213
whom he had mourned for so many weary
months as lost ! Even as he gazed upon her,
he could scarcely believe it.
Then she sang ; and, as he listened to that
wild and impassioned air, changing gradually
to a low and mournful plaint, and heard the
touching words in which she lamented her
infirmity, his fortitude at last gave way ; — he
wept — yes ; the calm and stately philosopher
actually wept — such tears as he had never
But tears were soon over for both of them.
And now, behold him sitting by her side, in
the calm, mysterious moonlight, her hand
clasped in his — her rapt countenance, glowing
with unutterable love, upraised towards his —
as he tells her of his wanderings and his
grief, and laying bare his soul before her, she
evermore finds her image there. Oh ! blessed
moments of the first sweet reunion ! — what in
after-life can equal them?...
214 EVELYN HARCOURT.
She, like a moon in wane,
Faded before him
self-folding, like a flower
That faints into itself at evening hour.
Orosmane. Quel caprice etonnant, que je ne consols pas !
Vous m'aimez ? Eh ! pourquoi vous forcez vous, cruelle
A dechirer le cceur d'un amant si fidele ?
A long, long kiss — a kiss of youth, and love,
Helen and Arthur Sherborne were mutually
struck with the change in each other's ap-
pearance. Suffering had fearfully altered her
in particular ; and he looked in vain for any
trace of the fair, placid girl he had known in
former days; who had been ever quiet and
inclining to gravity, indeed, but cheerful and
EVELYN HARCOURT. 215
free from care. Now, in her deep mourning
dress, pale and subdued, she looked the sha-
dow of her former self — a flower withering
before its time.
As her bodily strength diminished, her in-
tense feeling and sympathy for those around
her seemed rather to increase. The joy and
excitement of Mr. Sherborne's return, of
which, for many reasons, she had hitherto
despaired, affected her to an extraordinary
degree. The very intensity of her thankful-
ness was too much for her; she was no longer
equal to strong emotion of any kind ; and
although, as ever, her exterior was tolerably
calm, yet sleepless nights, continual fever,
and corresponding lassitude, were the inva-
riable consequences of any unusual agitation.
Evelyn, in the mean while, completely ab-
sorbed in the new and exquisite existence
that had thus suddenly opened for her, and
unable to mark the hectic flush, the painful
stoop, and hollow eye, which to others were
216 EVELYN H ARCOURT.
only too apparent, felt little or no anxiety at
this particular time to mar the perfection of
her felicity. There was one, however, who
watched each little symptom of decaying
strength with pangs unutterable — who never
for a moment deceived herself as to the pro-
bable result of Helen's illness ; that one was
Many were the serious conversations that
now took place between these two friends,
outwardly calm, indeed, but in which the soul
of one was torn with struggles that almost
equalled those of former years. Helen had
begun to speak of the probability of her ap-
proaching death to Lady Charles, though as
yet she had never alluded to it in the re-
motest manner before Evelyn. But feeling,
as she did, that her life was indeed drawing
near its close, and knowing how fearful and
desperate a struggle must take place before
that solitary heart could willingly give up
the only thing that formed its blessing and
EVELYN HARCOURT. 217
consolation, she unceasingly endeavoured by
her influence to soften the bitter trial which
she felt must come, by preparing her to meet
it with submission.
" But a few years more," would she say,
'* and all will be over for you as well as me.
But Eternity ! — think of the meaning of that
word ! What suffering, what toil and sorrow,
may not be borne with Eternity in view ; an
existence ever beginning, ever glorious — with-
out possibility of change or end ! Oh, how
paltry, how less than insignificant, do the
events, and interests, and passions of time
appear, when compared with that unimagined,
immortal existence ! Its very grandeur calms
the spirit — its boundless contemplation raises
it above this weary and unsatisfying world.
What are a few years more or less ? — a drop
of time in the ocean of Eternity ; valueless,
except as a preparation for the glorious change
that shall soon follow !"
" Ah, Helen, you speak as one on the verge
VOL. III. L
218 EVELYN HARCOURT.
of that Eternity ! Your race is nearly run —
your journey's end in view. You forget those
you leave behind, still toiling up the rough
ascent, with none to assist or cheer them on
" It is precisely because I do 7iot forget
them, that I speak thus openly before you.
I would extend my influence, which you say
has ever comforted you, beyond the grave ; I
would cheer you still. Life has no charms
for me — you know it has not : for m^ sake,
therefore, you cannot grieve when I shake off
this mortal coil. Think of me as unutterably
happy — united once again to those I loved so
well on earth : look to the time when we
shall meet, to part no more; watch over
those I leave behind me, for my sake — the
poor, the afflicted, the friendless. Be to
them a friend and protector, and let them
not feel my loss."
Then, with the wisdom of true benevo-
lence, which her intimate knowledge of Lady
EVELYN HARCOURT. 2 1 9
Charles's mind suggested to her, she would
proceed to mention various objects of especial
interest, all more or less unfortunate, and all
dependent on herself; and she would in a
manner give them into her charge. Well
did she know that every request of hers would
be considered as sacred — every labour would
for her sake become light, and would be
something towards rendering that weary life
more tolerable. Her memory would hallow
every work, and throw a charm over every
But, although Lady Charles, with that un-
selfishness which, from the first, had marked
her intercourse with Helen, contrived, by dint
of powerful efforts, to master her feelings in
her presence, these conversations were gene-
rally followed by solitary struggles so dread-
ful, that they almost shook her reason. To
have attained peace at last — to have acquired
something worth living for, and then to lose
that single, solitary interest — to have her
220 EVELYN HARCOURT.
heart seared again — her life rendered an
utter hlank — it was fearful I
And Helen, too ! Her hours of weakness
Avere not always hours of peace. She could
not but think, and mournfully, of those she
should leave behind ; one, especially, who
was so totally unprepared to lose her. She
grieved much for Lady Charles ; but her very
heart sank within her when she thought of
Evelyn, whom she had nursed, and watched
over, and cherished, with more than the love
of a sister. It was true, Evelyn had now
another being to love ; one, too, in whom her
very soul was bound up; but even Arthur
Sherborne, she fondly believed, would not be
able at first to heal the wound her loss would
One day, when she was sadly pondering
over these things, Arthur Sherborne himself
appeared before her with a countenance of such
extreme dejection, that, alarmed, she inquired
the cause, and found from him that Evelyn
EVELYN HARCOURT. 221
was resolved, firmly resolved, never to become
his wife, and that she had that very morning
told him so, not, however, without great agi-
tation on her own part. *' She would never,"
she had said, " render him the sharer of such
a calamity as had befallen herself. She had
often thouofht of it — often asked her secret soul
the question — whether, if he should ever re-
turn, and be willing to burthen himself with
one so afflicted, she would have strength and
disinterestedness to resist him ; and she had
prayed, earnestly prayed, for his sake, to be
enabled to do so."
In vain he had implored — reasoned with
her — remonstrated — her resolution appeared
to be unchangeable. With tears, and the
most passionate assurances of devotion, she
had declared that she would live for him —
worship him — pray for him — but 7iever be his
He appeared crushed by this unexpected
blow. To find her again — his long-lost,
222 EVELYN HARCOURT.
long-lamented treasure, and thus, by her own
hand, to be separated from her.... when her
infirmity only rendered her thousands and
thousands of times dearer in his sight ; when
to lead her along the path of life would be
his greatest happiness, his most exalted pri-
vilege — would make this world, liitherto with-
out an interest for him, a Paradise of hope ! —
In vain, Helen endeavoured lo soothe him,
and promised to use her utmost influence — to
leave no argument untried by which she might
hope to touch her. He seemed to despair of
any favourable result. An idea of mistaken
generosity — of false disinterestedness — had
taken possession of her mind, and to it she
would sacrifice both his happiness and her
That night Arthur Sherborne was seized
with a return of the same fever which had
twice before perilled his life. In the ravings
of his delirium, he was incessantly calling upon
Evelyn, sometimes in tones of agonizing re-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 223
proach, sometimes in accents of the fondest
endearment ; whilst she listened, crouched at
his chamber-door, with tearless e3^es, but
anguish so intense that the expression of her
countenance was fearful to look upon. She
accused herself of having occasioned his illness.
He had quitted her the night before in a state
of excitement bordering on phrenzj. Yet it
was for his dear sake that she had thus tor-
tured both herself and him.
A few days of dreadful apprehension — of
alternate hope and fear, which seemed to her
like ages of misery — and then he once more
rallied. But the morning that he was first
allowed to leave his room and come down
stairs, Helen was shocked at the alteration that
a few days of fever had produced in him. It
was well that Evelyn could not see him then !
What would have been her feelings had she
done so ?
It was a touching meeting, the first between
those lovers; their short separation had seemed
224 EVELYN HARCOURT.
to both like one of months. She soon dis-
covered, by his trembling hand, low voice, and
fluttering pulse, how much reduced he was ;
and then she gave herself up to the exquisite
delight of surrounding him with all those
little attentions which love like hers suggests,
and which her infirmity rendered doubly
affecting. Unassisted, she placed the easy
chair for him near the open window; she
felt her well known way to the terrace, and
gathered for him the freshest roses she could
find ; she went unasked to her harp, and sang
his favourite airs to him one by one, in accents
softer than usual. And how his eyes followed
her wherever she moved ! It seemed as if he
could not bear to lose sight of her for a single
instant. How dark, how dreary, had been
the last days without her !
She was feeling her way, with an unusually
rapid step, along the passage to the oak par-
lour, in search of a book she fancied he might
like to read, when she encountered Helen.
EVELYN HARCOLRT. 225
" Where are you hurrying, love ?"
" To the oak parlour ; don't detain me. I
want that Review; he was reading it the
other day — he seemed to like it ! It is on the
same shelf, is not it ?"
"Shall I fetch it for you?"
" No, no !" was the almost indignant reply;
" I can do that."
She was hurrying away, but —
" Evelyn !" cried Helen, suddenly, in a tone
that immediately arrested her.
" What, what ?"
" I am very unhappy about Arthur."
Evelyn started and turned deadly pale.
" Arthur.. ..why ?...."
" You cannot see him as I do. His looks
" Oh, heavens ! send for Dr. Williams in-
stantly — instantly ! I will go and order...."
But Helen laid her hand upon her shoulder.
" Dr. Williams can do nothing more for
him than he has done," said she, calmly; " and
226 EVELYN HARCOURT.
he has seen him to-day already. There is but
one person who can save him, and that is —
" Me !"
'' You, Evelyn ! you are breaking his heart
— I assure you, I think so. If you persist in
your present conduct, he will die ; believe me,
you will lose him !"
An extraordinary expression broke over the
speaking countenance of the blind girl at
these words! Was it joy? — ungovernable,
" Helen, are you not deceiving me? Is
this your real opinion ?"
" It is, indeed ! I speak advisedly. If you
could have watched him, as I have — if you
had heard Dr. Williams's opinion this morning
— the emphatic manner in which he said that
the slightest agitation, the least distress of
mind, or anxiety now, would almost certainly
bring on a recurrence of that fever, and that
such a recurrence, such another attack, as he
EVELYN HARCOURT. 227
has just had, would most probably kill him —
if you had heard this, as I did, you would have
no doubt yourself. Evelyn, he will die, unless
by one word of yours — one little word — you
raise him again to life and hope. Can you
doubt that it is your duty to speak that
Evelyn seized her hand with eagerness, and,
clasping it to her bosom, raised those glorious
eyes to heaven.
" Say no more," said she. " What have I
done to be so blessed ?"
A few moments more, and she was again
by Arthur's side, and he was gazing with sur-
prise upon her unusually flushed cheek and
" Here is the Review you seemed to like
the other day," said she, in a trembling voice.
" And you found it for me, sweet one !"
he replied, tenderly stroking her long, dark
"■ Alas 1 I cannot read it to you !" said she,
228 EVELYN HARCOURT.
mournfully. '' Oh, that I were not blind !....
But there is one thing I can do — I can love
you as none ever loved before !"....
'* Ah, Evelyn ! and yet you will not be
mine ! You hold the cup of happiness to my
lips, yet you refuse to let me drink of it. Is
this generous ? You will kill me at last," he
added, with a deep sigh ; " you have half
killed me already ! I thought it was all over
with me the other day !"
" Arthur, Arthur — do not speak such
words! I know, by what I have felt these
last few days, that I never could survive your
*' Then, if you do love me," he murmured,
feebly drawing her closer and closer to his
bosom, " be mine — mine own...."
As he bent over her, gazing with inex-
pressible tenderness on her beloved features,
she felt his quick-drawn breath upon her
A faint blush tinged her own. By a slight.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 229
a very slight movement, but one that was per-
ceptible to him, she raised her lips to his.
" I will — I will be yours ! " murmured
From that day Arthur Sherborne rapidly
recovered. The perfection of his happiness
seemed almost to change his nature. He be-
came an altered being, and lost that gravity
for which he had always hitherto been so re-
markable. There was scarcely a moment of
the day in which Evelyn was not reminded, by
his unusual joyousness, the singular exuber-
ance of his spirits, how she had raised him
from the depths of despair to the very summit
of happiness ; she, who had believed that she
was incapable of making that happiness. And
how he watched over her, how he was ever
alive to prevent her wishes, almost before she
was conscious of them herself ! How he che-
rished her for that very infirmity, which had
so nearly been the means of separating them !
How many and many a time did he assure her
230 EVELYN HARCOURT.
that she was dearer, far dearer to him now —
blind, dependant as she was — than she had
ever been in her proudest days of triumphant
beauty ! Was she not more immediately his
own? — was she not the means of producing
to him a thousand delicious emotions ? The
pleasure of serving her — a feeling that upon
him she depended for help, and that she pre-
ferred that help to every other — did not he
owe this to her ? Now, too, he could prove
his love; there was scarcely a moment in
which he could not prove it, in one shape or
From the hour that Evelyn consented to
become his, Arthur Sherborne laid down for
himself a happy and a holy aim in life, a duty
which he swore never to neglect — to surround
her with such perfect and unchanging tender-
ness, that she should learn to forget her in-
firmity, and cease, if possible, to suffer from
it. She should be no longer blind — he would
be as sight to her. Every thing exquisite
EVELYN HARCOURT. 231
and beautiful in creation, which she could no
longer behold, he would make visible to her
mental sight by the power of his intellect.
For her his imagination should be never idle,
for her his poetic fancy should be incessantly
at work. Whatever of richness, of genius,
and power, his mind possessed, should be
called forth and exerted in her behalf. Fame
he valued not — he had more than enough of
it already ; in her should his ambition be
centred henceforth ; she should be his idol,
and her approbation alone his reward.
There was certainly something very touch-
ing in the devotion of these two to one ano-
ther : it was hard to say which manifested it
the most strongly. They had loved each
other secretly when the world was smiling
upon them, when admiration was surrounding
them on every side ; and they had turned
from the giddy throng to each other, and
unconsciously their hearts had interchanged
communion ; and now in adversity, when one,
232 EVELYN HARCOURT.
at least, was abandoned by the world, they
loved each other even more fondly still.
In the mean time, the news of his return
had spread, and his country was ringing with
the sound of his fame. He found it no longer
possible to resist the importunities that as-
sailed him on all sides to come up to London
for a time, and consent to receive the homage
that all were anxious to render. He was in
a manner public property, and he must not
hope to conceal himself from the demonstra-
tions of public admiration. Unwillingly, there-
fore, he at last consented to go ; and little as
he had ever valued the applause of the mul-
titude, even he could not be wholly indiffe-
rent to the universal homage that met him on
all sides. The public papers teemed with his
praises — a personal interview was granted
him by the highest personage in the realm — a
baronetcy conferred upon him, unsolicited on
his part — and a high political appointment
offered him, if he would consent to join the
EVELYN HARCOURT. $33
party then in power. But, although to the
former, as a mark of distinction for success-
ful talent, he might attach some trifling value
for Evelyn's sake, nothing would induce him
to accept the latter then. His devotion to
her would render public life intolerable to
him ; and his literary pursuits were to him
more dear than aught else, except her smile.
And, oh, with what delighted pride did she
listen to the accounts of the distinguished
honour, the unexampled enthusiasm, with
which he was welcomed back to his native
land — the public dinners that were given him
— the speeches that were addressed to him —
the compliments that were paid him — by the
noblest, and proudest, and best in the land !
And this wonderful being, whose genius had
exalted him so far above his fellow-men —
whom all delighted to honour — this gifted
beino- was hers! He w^hom a nation admired
had stooped to her— the poor, blind girl ; and
well she knew that a single look of hers was
234 EVELYN HARCOURT.
more to him than the favour of kings, and
the applause of the multitude ! Was she not
In the mean time, Helen was becoming
more and more anxious that her marriage
should take place without delay. There were
certain symptoms about herself — sensations
she could scarcely, perhaps, explain — but
which convinced her each day, more and
more, that her life would not be much pro-
longed, and before its close she wished to see
her darling safe. Once under the avowed
protection, the tender care, of Arthur Sher-
borne, she felt she should no longer have a
fear or an anxiety about her.
But Evelyn at first resisted all entreaties
that she would fix a period for her marriage.
Her joy was so great when her lover returned
to her — she was so exquisitely happy as she
was, that she would willingly have prolonged
that delicious period if she could. She felt
averse to any change — any alteration what-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 235
ever. At length, however, perceiving that
Helen was beginning to disapprove of her pro-
longed delay, and to consider it selfish, and
that Arthur himself was becoming less light-
hearted, more anxious, than he had been —
she yielded to the strongly expressed wishes
of both, and a period was actually fixed for
the celebration of the wedding. It was to
take place quite privately at Bridge, and Lady
Truro was almost the only person invited to
be present, besides their own party. She was
at that time staying with her relations, Sir
Aubrey and Lady Harcourt at Burgh Weston,
and for many reasons she felt it a duty to
accept the invitation, much as she dreaded
beholding both Evelyn and Arthur again. As
for them, when they gazed upon her, and saw
how changed she was, how fallen from her
high estate, the chief feeling she excited in
their hearts was one of deep compassion. If
her faults had been great, she had at least
been severely punished for them, and had
236 EVELYN HARCOURT.
borne that punishment well. She was hand-
some still ; but so faded, so careworn, so un-
like the gay and brilliant creature she had
been in former times! — and in spite of her
excellent management, there was such a
pinched and parsimonious look about her, like
one who, either from choice or from necessity,
was continually denying herself the commonest
comforts ! And this was what she actually
did ; for, notwithstanding her poverty and
complete dependance upon others, such was
her infatuation for her dissolute husband, that
she could never hear of his being in want of
money, (and that was almost as often as she
did hear of him) without immediately sending
him the miserable savings she had hoarded up
from the charity of Evelyn for that purpose.
She still hoped to reclaim him ; — she still
trusted that her forbearance, her indulgence,
would plead for her at last, and that he would
return to her one day repentant and reformed.
They could not encourage her much in this
EVELYN HARCOURT. 237
hope. Considering his mode of life, and the
length of time such habits had been indulged
in, they could not consider his reform as very
probable, but they trusted for her sake that it
might at last take place, and they sincerely
pitied her sorrows as a wife. Her brother
had offered her a home, and a small yearly
sum for her own personal expenses, provided
she would promise never to see nor commu-
nicate with Lord Truro again, but this propo-
sition she had indignantly rejected ; and, on
his then refusing to receive her in his house,
she had taken refuge with her connexion. Sir
Aubrey Harcourt, a man of small fortune, but
remarkable liberality. He and his beautiful
wife had welcomed her to Bargh Weston with
cordial kindness, and Sir Aubrey had pressed
upon her a small yearly sum, to be paid regu-
larly till some permanent and satisfactory ar-
rano:ement could be made with Lord Truro
respecting an allowance. Evelyn so earnestly
entreated to be allowed the same privilege.
238 EVELYN HARCOURT.
that Lady Truro opposed but a feeble resist-
ance to her wishes ; though even she was not
so callous as to be able to receive without
compunction the generous aid of one she had
so cruelly injured. The sight of Evelyn, with
her melancholy infirmity, was to her a bitter
and continual reproach ; and though she list-
ened with apparent pleasure and real gratitude
to the oft-repeated entreaties that she would
make the Priory her home, still she felt in her
inmost heart that any home in the wide world
would be preferable to that, where she would
be continually reminded of the saddest portion
of her life, as well as the most culpable ; — and
where every act of kindness that was shown
her would be a kind of tacit reproach to herself.
There were not many persons besides Helen
and Lady Charles, who were aware that Evelyn,
after all, was not unlikely to turn out an heiress
in a small way. Helen had settled a large
part of her own private income on her hus-
band's relations, and the rest on her cousin
EVELYN HARCOURT. 239
Harry Bridge ; but the whole of the sum she
derived from Lady Charles, as well as the
Priory itself and the adjoining property, would
become Evelyn's on her death ; — such having
been the arrangement of that lady at the time
that she made over the estate to Helen.
Neither Evelyn nor her lover were, however,
aware of this circumstance; indeed, money
was the very last thing that occupied their
thoughts at this time. He had very early
given instructions to his lawyer to settle all
that he possessed upon Evelyn ; — and having
so done, he troubled his head no more about
settlements, nor aught concerning them. He
knew that he was rich enough for all that they
required. He had long ago paid off his father's
debts, and his works were continually bringing
him in large sums of money. Their only diffi-
culty, he believed, would be how to dispose of
their income, especially since, for a time at
least, they w^ere to continue to live at Eridge.
A few days before the wedding, they were
240 EVELYN HARCOURT.
all delighted by an unexpected piece of good
news ; — nothing less than a projected union
between Mr. Chisholm and Adelaide Eridge.
He had seen something of her during her stay
at the Priory ; indeed, it was partly through
her means that he had again discovered his lost
relative. The acquaintance, thus begun, had
been improved abroad, and had at length
ripened into a strong mutual attachment. No-
thing could possibly have gratified Lady
Charles more than this intelligence, for both
parties were unusually amiable and excellent,
and she felt that thus her former home would
be graced by a mistress worthy of it. All
united, however, in pitying poor Julia, who
would now be left to the mercy of her ec-
centric mother. But it was not long before
she too had to announce her approaching
marriage to the young Lord Montgomery, who,
rich, amiable, and good-looking, was a yet
higher parti than the other. He was the
living image of his still beautiful mother.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 241
whose tale of touching and sorrowful interest
was yet fresh in the recollection of all ; — and
gladly did she welcome for her son such a wife
as Julia Eridge, for a sad experience had
taught her that not wealth nor grandeur, but
virtue and true affection, are the ingredients
that constitute real happiness in married life.
And now, as the day fixed for Evelyn's
wedding approached, to the surprise of all,
her spirits became visibly depressed. She felt
an unaccountable dread of some impending
evil — some heavy calamity hanging over her,
which she was powerless to avert. In vain she
struggled against these forebodings ; — in vain
she reasoned with herself, and strove to shake
them off; — they would recur, oppressing her
with a sense of fear and of discouragement,
which she had thought never to know again.
Ah ! if the cup of happiness, but just raised
to her lips, should now be dashed away — how
should she endure it? . . .
VOL. III. M
242 EVELYN HARCOURT.
This is your wedding day...
Taming of the Shrew.
Enfans, ma seule joie en mes longs deplaisirs,
Ces festons dans vos mains, et ces fleurs...
I should bid good morrow to my bride,
And seal the title with a loving kiss.
Taming of the Shrew.
The long expected day dawned at length —
a lovely morning in the beginning of Sep-
tember ; and never did the sun rise more
gloriously ; never was there a bluer or more
cloudless sky than on this auspicious day.
The wedding was to be strictly private — so
it had been said; but there could be little
privacy in what concerned Evelyn, The
whole county was interested in such an event
EVELYN HARCOURT. 243
as her marriage, and nearly the whole county
was present. Not a cranny, not a corner, in
that old church, but was crowded with spec-
tators, some of whom had been there many
hours. It was a touching sight, the children
of her school — the children whom she had
taught, dressed in their best to do her honour
— the poor whom she had relieved, and whose
blessings would follow her wherever she went
— all were collected round, a serious and a
devoted congregation — all were awaiting, in
silent expectation, her appearance.
And now the bridal party are approaching,
and there is a solemn hush in the old church.
She enters at length — that beautiful bride-
blind, but oh, how lovely ! Her lover leads
her on. How trustingly she leans upon his
arm, and with what proud and doting tender-
ness he guides her steps !
They have reached the altar, and the friends
who follow group themselves around. Not
many are there ; but one — one cannot be
244 EVELYN HARCOURT.
overlooked — and many a sad and tearful eye is
fixed on the wan countenance and emaciated
form of Helen, as, faint and trembling, she
stands close to the playmate, the companion
of her youth, from whom she is now about
to be separated for a short space, and soon,
perhaps, for ever I
But, hark ! the service has begun ; and,
with her graceful head slightly inclined to-
wards her lover, Evelyn is listening with rapt
attention to those solemn words in which they
exchange their plighted faith. And when
their hands are joined, and the mysterious
ring, the symbol of their union, is placed
upon her finger, and he gently presses that
hand, his own now, in token of his undying
faith, her cheek flushes, and her whole frame
trembles with emotion.... A few, a very few
tears fall ; but they are tears of thankfulness.
And now it is over, and she is, indeed, his
own ; and nothing on this side the grave can
separate them more.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 245
Beautiful being ! innocent in thine afflic-
tion — touching in thy gentle patience ! — there
is not a heart that does not feel for thee now
— scarce an eye that is not wet as it rests on
thy sweet face....
See, the children are crowding around her ;
some have seized her hands, some her white
dress — all strive to approach her once more,
and bid her a last farewell. And many a
youthful voice is wishing her joy, and many
an aged lip is blessing her, the sweet bride, as
she passes. ...And friends and neighbours are
gathering around her on every side : she sees
them not; but she recognises their voices,
and has a kind word, a grateful reply, for
It is indeed a touching scene; and even
Arthur Sherborne, though he struggles hard
to maintain his manly bearing, for many eyes
are on him, cannot view it without emotion.
As for Helen — poor Helen! — she is utterly
246 EVELYN HARCOURT.
But they have reached the church door;
and now a shout as of a thousand voices has
rent the air, as they come forth, and it
spreads far and wide, for the old churchyard
is thronged with crowds of eager spectators,
who press upon each other to catch a glimpse
of them as they pass. But the way is kept
clear for them by strong and determined
arms, and their path is strewed with flowers...
And as they advance, the shouts increase ; and,
overcome for a moment by such continued and
unusual excitement, she trembles, and turns
pale. But he is there to reassure and to
support her, and to whisper words of tender-
ness in her ear And she waves her hand in
token of adieu ; and amidst tears, and shouts,
and blessings, she reaches the little gate, and
slowly enters the carriage — he rapidly follows
her : one farewell, deafening shout — and they
But all is not yet over; for one painful
part yet remains for her to play — to bid fare-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 247
well to Helen ; and her heart is oppressed at
the prospect. Ah ! could she but see her —
could she but behold that altered face for a
single moment — how would her present joy be
dashed with grief and apprehension !.... But,
for the first time, Helen rejoices that she is
blind ; and, true to her self-denying devotion
to the last, she has nerved herself for one
mighty, final effort of exertion and self-con-
trol. Not now shall any symptom of weak-
ness on her part appear, either mental or
bodily — not now shall the slightest cloud of
iier producing mar the brightness of Evelyn's
radiant sky ! Yet she doubts if she shall ever
behold her again....
With a busy hand she assists the pale and
trembling hride to assume her travelling dress ;
she even reproves the weeping Mrs. Hart for
betraying so much weakness, when there
should be nothing now but joy ! Tenderly,
but without hesitation, she leads her down into
the room where first she promised to be his.
248 EVELYN HARCOURT.
But for the first time Evelyn turns from
her lover, and throws herself, convulsed in
tears, into the arms of her early friend, her
more than sister — and Helen has become
deadly pale, and is ready to faint. But a
sign, a look, from Lady Charles, who is in-
tently watching her, and Arthur Sherborne is
again by their side, and he gently draws away
his weeping bride, and supports her, half
fainting, to the carriage. Then the servants
crowd into the porch to see ber go; but
she does not heed them — she is weeping
passionately; and for a few moments no-
thing but sobs and murmured farewells are
Now Helen's task is done. Bravely has
she played her part to the last, but now her
strength has given way. When the last faint
sounds of those departing wheels have ceased
in the distance, and with a sigh of excited
feeling the servants turn again into the house,
it is to see their beloved mistress, pale and
EVELYN HARCOURT. 249
insensible, supported in the arms of Lady
Truro and Lady Charles, the latter of whom,
during the whole of this trying morning, has
scarcely lost sight of her for an instant.
250 EVELYN HARCOURT.
. . . Each day
She is a little weaker ; — feebler grows
The thin white hand ; — a bright flush
Spreads sometimes o'er the whiteness of her cheek,
Then dies away, like the last rosy gleam
Of the descended sun on evening skies ;
A sure and fearful omen that the night
Is closing o'er its beauty.
. . . Let no tear
Be shed, even in thought.
c . . Thy cheek is pale
For one whose cheek is pale — thou dost bewail
Her tears who weeps for thee.
'Tis she, but lo !
How changed ! how full of ache ! how gone in woe !
The decay of nature with Helen had always
been less rapid than she had anticipated, and
so it continued to be. It was like the falling
away of leaves in autumn ; — from day to day,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 251
scarcely any change was observed by others,
although there was a change, certain, percep-
tible, and by no means unwelcome to herself.
It was now that with striking and wonder-
ful composure she set herself to prepare for
the event which she felt would not be much
longer delayed. She would " set her house in
order, for she must die /" Nothing was left
undone, no arrangement omitted, that could
either benefit others when she was gone, or
mitigate their grief for her loss. To Lady
Charles she not only confided the particular
care of all those amongst the poor whom she
was herself in the habit of relieving, but her
school was formally given over to her charge,
and the astonished and weeping children were
calmly told that they must look upon her in
future as their friend and instructress.
She assisted Lady Charles, too, with her
opinion and advice respecting the cottage near
the Priory, which was now to be her home ; —
for Lady Charles had no intention of con-
552 EVELYN HARCOURT.
tinuing at Eridge. Many reasons com-
bined to determine her against doing so, and
Helen refrained from combating them, for
she felt that, under all the circumstances, it
was far better that she should have a home of
her own, and that at once there would be
greater independence, more perfect liberty,
for her thus; — and Evelyn, she well knew,
would do all that the most watchful kindness
could suggest, to soothe and cheer her. Her
little cottage was only a few hundred yards
from the lodge-gate, and very small it was ; —
but it fully equalled her wishes, and it should
be furnished in the simplest manner, and there
would she pass the solitary remnant of her
days — how she scarcely dared to think.
Her arrangements were not long in making ;
and the cottage was speedily ready for her
reception. She intended, indeed, to establish
herself there before Evelyn's return, in order
to avoid her urgent entreaties to remain at
Eridge, as well as those of her husband,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 253
which she well knew she would have to
Helen had, without her knowledge, written
some time before to her former attendant,
Mrs. Woods, who, as my readers are already
aware, was deeply attached to her ; and she
had easily prevailed upon this excellent woman
to leave her small shop to the care of her
sister, and instal herself in the cottage as
housekeeper, for a time at least, whilst her
young daughter should live with her, and act
as assistant to the mistress of the Bridge
schools. Lady Charles was not a little af-
fected when she was informed of this arranofe-
ment, w^hich proved so forcibly Helen's thought-
ful and tender solicitude concerning her future;
whilst to Helen herself it was an inexpressible
comfort to feel that there would be one person
at least always about her unfortunate friend,
who was well acquainted with her peculiarities
of mind, and who would watch over her with
a faithful and true affection.
254 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Helen's strength was now so much reduced,
that she could no longer walk without con-
siderable difficulty and fatigue. She had not
quitted the house for many days ; — but one
morning Lady Charles was surprised to find
her sitting in the oak parlour, ready prepared
to go out.
" I feel stronger to-day," said she, in
answer to her friend's look of inquiry ; " and
I wish so much to see your home ! I must
be able to picture you to myself there, and
I cannot do so without seeing it."
*' Ah, Helen ! do not think of me — I strive
not to think of myself."
" But you will let me see it — will not
'^ Let you ? — I may perhaps learn to love
it if you come there, even though only for
Helen was wheeled along in Evelyn's gar-
den-chair ; and Lady Charles walked by her
side, with a sad presentiment that this would
EVELYN HARCOURT. 955
be her last expedition — the last time she
would leave her home alive.
As thej thus proceeded, many a cottager,
attracted by the unusual sight, came out to
greet the invalid with a smile and a curtsey
as she passed; rejoicing that she was well
enough to be once more out in the open air.
But they generally retreated with a sigh, as
they marked the pale countenance, sunken
eye, and hollow voice ! It was too evident
thatpoorMrs. Percy was notlongfor this world.
Helen took a keen interest in everything
relating to the cottage, where her memory
she well knew would be cherished. She
would go into every room, and carefully ex-
amine each. At length, overcome by so
unusual a fatigue, she sank down on a chair
in the little sunny parlour that overlooked the
road to Eridge.
" This would be my favourite room, I think,"
said she ; " and here I shall like to picture you."
'* Where you will !" returned the other
^56 EVELYN HARCOURT.
sadly ; " it will be all alike to me — all filled
with memories of you."
" And of my first visit — perhaps my last,"
said Helen, pressing her hand with emotion ;
" but fear not ! though I shall be no longer
with you, you will not sorrow as one that has
no hope. Here," she continued, taking from
her bag her own small, well-worn bible,
" here is my legacy. I give it you whilst
life is yet warm within me. I leave it here,
in your home, which I trust may be cheered
and illumined by its influence, when my voice
shall be hushed, and my spirit at peace. Then,
indeed, my memory shall be a blessing to
you, as I would have it, and — so I would be
As she spoke, she made an effort to rise,
and placed the book on one of the small empty
'^ Let it lie there," said she faintly, " till
all is over with me ! Then open it ; and may
its pages speak to you of the time when we
EVELYN HARCOTTRT. 257
shall meet again — when this corruptible shall
put on incorruption — this mortal, immor-
tality ! Will you promise me ?"
Lady Charles pressed her hand to her lips :
" I do — I do !" was all she could say.
*' And now," said Helen, after a pause of a
few moments, during w^hich her companion
had succeeded, as usual, in repressing the
rising agony, ** there is yet another visit I
would pay — can you guess it ? — "
There was little difficulty — it was to the
grave of her child — and, when she reached the
quiet spot, she wept long and silently, for it
was the last time she should ever drop a tear
upon his tombstone, or pray there for that
angel spirit whose earthly image rested under-
neath. But Lady Charles had promised to
cherish that spot — to tend the flowers and
shrubs her hand had planted there — and soon
she too should rest beneath that turf, whilst her
spirit — to what regions of bliss and immortality
mio^ht that not have soared... ?
258 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Helen was sensibly the worse for the exer-
tion and excitement of this day. She never
rallied after it, nor left the house again.
Lady Charles was incessantly urging her
to allow that Evelyn should be written to ; —
in her opinion, it was wrong, utterly wrong,
to conceal from her any longer the critical
state of one to whom she was so deeply at-
tached. It would only make the shock more
dreadful when it came. But Helen con-
tinually postponed this bitter duty. " It is
not yet time," would she say. " Leave her
yet a short period of happiness. Do not
mar her first pure joy — the sorrow will come
soon enough !"
And in a little time, she rejoiced that she
had done so ; for letters arrived from Arthur
Sherborne which filled her indeed with hope
and gladness — such gladness as she had never
expected to feel for Evelyn on this side the
grave. It seemed that he had taken her to
London, where he had shown her to Mr. A ,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 259
the eminent oculist, who had at once pro-
nounced her blindness curable by an operation
which he had every hope of performing favour-
ably. Such news, wonderful, and almost
incredible as it seemed, was indeed received
with fervent gratitude by Helen — the more
fervent, because it was so wholly unexpected.
Dr. A , the medical man under whose
care Evelyn had been during her illness, had
always spoken so positively of the hopeless
nature of her infirmity, that not the shadow
of a doubt upon the subject had ever crossed
the mind of either Helen or Evelyn herself,
who, indeed, had a peculiar and almost mor-
bid dislike to having her eyes examined by
any one. It seemed, however, that Dr.
A , more skilled in cases of loss of intel-
lect than in those of loss of sight, had taken
an erroneous view of her case ; w^hich, indeed,
was a very peculiar one in all respects.*
* A singular case of blindness, something similar to this,
is recorded in ' Travers's Synopsis of the diseases of the eye.'
' The eye became the subject of a superficial but violent
260 EVELYN HARCOURT.
Now, indeed, Helen had reason to rejoice
that she had allowed her darling to remain
so long in ignorance of her own precarious
state of health ; and not by a word to alarm
or agitate her would she endanger the per-
fect success of this blessed attempt at cure.
In the mean time, she counted the days —
almost the hours — till she could hear ; and
trembled each morning, as the letters ar-
rived, lest they should bring some unfavour-
able news. But none came; and, in due
time, a few short and agitated lines from
Arthur Sherborne announced the fact that
the operation had been performed, and under
every favourable circumstance ; but that
many days must yet elapse before a decided
opinion could be formed as to its success.
Oh ! how the time seemed to lag after that
inflammation from sympathy with its fellow, which was
acutely inflamed. The cataract was formed in two days.
The pain was of the most intense kind, affecting the eye-
balls, temples, and cheek.'
EVELYN HARCOURT. 261
letter ! — how slowly, how wearily, amidst in-
creasing languor and disease, the days went
by ! But joy came at last ! The long
wished -for, long-expected letter arrived.
She had seen I she had actually beheld her
husband ! Evelyn was no longer blind !...
Half an hour had not elapsed after the
arrival of this news, before it was known to
all the village ; it spread like wildfire ! And
the bells were ringing a merry peal, and chil-
dren were shouting in heartfelt glee ; and
school and lessons were abandoned for that
day ! Their dear Lady Sherborne had reco-
vered her sight ! — the whole neighbourhood
was crazy with joy.
But Evelyn's rejoicing was in a soberer
spirit. She would have thanks publicly
offered for her in the old church where she
had so recently pronounced her marriage
vows ; and her first visit, when allowed to go
out, was, in company with her husband, to
the house of God.
262 EVELYN HARCOURT.
At length, she wrote herself to Helen a
few touching lines, in token of her recovered
sight. It was her first letter, and it affected
But now, Helen felt it was indeed time to
awaken her from the dream of pure and per-
fect joy in which she was indulging — to the
sad realities of disease, decay, and death.
She exerted herself to answer her; and it
was a long and beautiful letter, that last
which Helen ever wrote ; well fitted to pre-
pare her, if anything could, for the separation
which was so shortly to take place. She felt
sad, however, when she sent it, for she knew
that it could not but inflict a deep and painful
wound. And almost incessantly, during the
following day, her thoughts recurred to
Evelyn, and she involuntarily pictured to her-
self, first her careless and unconscious recep-
tion of that letter ; then, the terrible shock of
its perusal ; and, lastly, the grief that would
not soon be comforted. Happily, there was
EVELYN HARCOURT. 263
one near her, whose tenderness would soothe
her, if anythmg could.
Helen was lying, supported by pillows, on
the sofa, to which she was now entirely con-
fined during the day ; and thinking to herself
that at this very moment, perhaps, Evelyn
was reading, for the twentieth time, that me-
lancholy letter — perhaps weeping over it ;
when, suddenly, a quick step was heard in
the passage ; the door opened, and Evelyn her-
self appeared on the threshold. She paused for
a moment or two, as if struck with horror at
the sight of Helen's pallid countenance ; — then,
darting forwards, she threw herself into her
arms, and burst into a passionate fit of weep-
" Oh ! Helen, Helen ! why have you treated
me thus ? — why have you concealed this from
me? — cruel, cruel Helen... !"
" My love !" said Lady Charles, observing
that Helen's forehead was becoming damp,
and that her lips were turning deadly pale.
264 EVELYN HARCOURT.
" jou must not agitate her thus. She is too
weak to bear it."
But Evelyn clasped her hands together.
She scarcely seemed to hear these words.
" Oh ! Helen, to see you again for the first
time, and to find you thus — to recover my
sight, but for this !..."
" You would not have known me, my
Evelyn ; — that is what you would say. Yet
I am still the same in spirit, though the out-
ward form is changed, and fading fast away.
Let us not shorten the little time that yet
remains to pass together, by giving way to
useless sorrow. Here is one," turning to
Lady Charles with an affectionate smile,
" who grieves to lose me as you do ; — but she
will tell you that she has learnt to rejoice, for
my sake, that I am going where no sorrow
can any more touch me — no trial disturb.
Remember, love, * where the treasure is,
there shall the heart be also !' and mj/ trea-
sure is not here . . "
EVELYN HARCOURT. 965
But Evelyn could scarcely listen : — she
could do nothing but weep — still weep bitterly
and passionately ! The blow was as yet too
recent ! too overwhelming ! She could not
And Helen was not able to witness such
agonizing sorrow without being powerfully
affected by it. It ended in her being seized
with a faintness so deadly, that she was with
the utmost difficulty restored to life and con-
sciousness. As she lay there, pale and inani-
mate, like one already beyond the reach of all
human emotion, Evelyn, subdued by the
melancholy spectacle, and trembling lest her
spirit should each moment desert its frail
companion, made an earnest and solemn vow
within herself, that never again would she
thus yield to her emotions in her presence,
nor disturb the peace of her departing soul
by the sight of her own passionate grief.
She softly retreated to her chamber, and
there, in silence and solitude, poured out her
VOL. III. N
966 EVELYN HARCOURT.
soul in prayer; and strove, after so many
weeks of intense and bewildering happiness,
to subdue her spirit to the stern and bitter
realities of grief — a grief the more into-
lerable, because it found her so wholly un-
EVELYN HARCOURT. 2fi7
Baptista. .... 'tis a match.
Gremio. Was ever match clapped up so suddenly ?
Taming of the Shrew.
Petruchio. We will have rings, and things, and fine
Petruchio. I am as peremptory as she proud-minded,
And where two raging fires meet together,
They do consume the thing that feeds their fury.
One woe doth tread upon another's heel.
The corse did with desperate hand
Foredo its own life.
It was about this time that the public
papers teemed with accounts of an event
which, by recalling certain bitter recollections
of former days, excited in Evelyn's mind
many and varied sensations ; the chief of
96S EVELYN HARCOURT.
which, however, was joy — the most intense joy-
as well as thankfulness at her present happy
This event was nothing less than the mar-
riage of his Grace the Duke of Shetland ;
the object of whose choice was the Lady
Adeliza Blois, youngest daughter of George
Blois Percy Blois, tenth Marquis of Blois,
Earl of Blentville and Bewdley, and lord of
half a dozen places besides. The fair fiancee
was young, singularly beautiful, and emi-
nently accomplished ; and being well fitted
both by birth and education for the distin-
guished position which the Duchess of Shet-
land must necessarily occupy, it was no great
matter of marvel to any one that the Duke,
who had been frequently heard to observe of
late that he was bored to extinction, and
really must '^ faire une firC' at last, should
have selected her to share the ennuis of his
princely lot with him, and, by sharing, lessen
EVELYN HARCOURT. 269
It seemed perfectly natural, indeed, and
the world thought so ; but the world seldom
knows the real motives which influence the
actions it takes upon itself either to justify
or condemn. It did not know now that the
Duke had proposed to Lady Adeliza exactly
one hour after he had heard at his club of
the successful result of Evelyn Sherborne's
operation, and that there was no doubt of
the ultimate restoration of her sight. It did
not know, moreover, as he did, that he had
risen that morning without the most remote
intention of proposing at all, and that such
an idea, as connected with the young lady in
question, had never, before the hour in which
he did so, even so much as crossed his brain !
Neither did it know, whilst looking ap-
provingly on at the magnificent preparations
which were shortly * en train'' for this ' mar-
riaore in hio^h life,' that the astonishment of
the Lady Adeliza at the offer she had re-
ceived was equalled only by that of her
270 EVELYN HARCOURT.
pompous and worldly mamma, who very
nearly had a fit in consequence.
What the world did know was, that no-
thing ever equalled the splendour of the dia-
monds which the Duke had had re-arranged
expressly for his bride (they had never been
touched till now, since the memorable morn-
ing when he had offered them to Evelyn),
and that eager crowds flocked to gaze at
them, with admiration and envy, during the
few days they were to be seen at Storr and
Mortimer's ! What it did know was, that
nothing so costly, so tasteful, nor so exquisite
as the trousseau of the bride, had ever before
been seen in London ; nothing so magnificently
convenient as her dressing-case ; nothing so
luxurious nor so perfect in its appointments
as the carriage that was building for her.
The world did know all this — and knowing
it, how could it imagine that she for whom
all these preparations were making, for whom
thousands were being expended, and on whom
EVELYN H ARCOURT. 2 7 1
tens of thousands more were about to be
settled, cared as little for the great man who
showered down these gifts upon her, as she
did for the mean-looking lawyer's clerk who
had been employed to copy out her marriage-
settlements ; and very considerably less than
she did for her handsome but penniless cousin,
George de Beauvoir, of the Guards.
The world never imagined this ! — how could
it, when in its eyes the match was the most
suitable and desirable one in every respect
that could possibly take place ? — when the
friends of the bridegroom rejoiced that he
was about to marry at last ? " It was high
time — they had always said so, but they had
feared he would never bring himself to the
point," &c. ; and those of the bride triumphed
in her good fortune, or envied her the bril-
liant lot she had secured for herself! To the
world it all seemed just as it should be — high
birth, beauty, and accomplishments, on the
one side ; on the other, unbounded wealth.
272 EVELYN HARCOURT.
and an exalted position among the proudest
of England's peers. Some whispers indeed
there were, that all was not quite as happy as
it seemed ; but the world turned a deaf ear
to these, and heeded them not. Nothing in
its estimation could be very far wrong, where
all was so outwardly fair to view.
They married — and then all was joy, con-
gratulations, and smiles. But the sequel re-
mains to be told ; and perhaps we cannot do
better than relate it here, though in order to
do so we must anticipate somewhat. The
lune de miel was not more than half over,
Avhen the Duke made the unexpected and
unwelcome discovery that his wife was con-
siderably less gentle than she looked; in
a word, that the beautiful young Duchess,
with her soft, feminine countenance, clear
skin, and melting blue eyes, was possessed of
a temper !.,..}iea\ens, what a temper ! It
can be compared to nothing but the eternal
dropping of water upon stone, drop after drop,
EVELYN HARCOURT. 273
drop after drop, till at length even the hardest
surface must end by being worn away !...
It was a daily, hourly, momentary curse — it
ate into his very soul, it poisoned the whole
current of his existence. He was not a man
to give in — to consent for the sake of a quiet
life to be governed by his wife ; neither was
she a woman ever to abandon the struggle
for power. She had ruled her parents — so it
was said — even from her earliest years ; and
she would strive her utmost to rule her hus-
band now. Her selfishness, too, fully equalled
his ; and we have seen to what an extent he
carried that odious quality. The conse-
quence of all this was, that having begun
with the utmost indifference on both sides,
they ended with actual and intense hatred of
one another. Neither of them had long made
a secret of their true motives for marrying —
in the one case, it had been ambition ; in the
other, pique ; — they made no secret of their
abhorrence of each other now !
274 EVELYN HARCOURT.
No child blessed this ill-assorted union;
and the Duke, one of whose chief objections
to early marriages had formerly been, that
his son would be treading on his heels before
he had acquired either years or patience to
bear with such an infliction, never had a son
at all to attempt any liberty of the kind.
This was, of course, a bitter disappointment
to both of them ; and the feelings which such
a mutual tie might possibly have softened
became, from the absence of it, more bitter
and acrimonious than ever. ^ He gradually
settled down into a hard, morose, disap-
pointed man — difficult of access — prone to
take offence without cause — violent in his
political sentiments — rarely, if ever, seen to
unbend or smile — and shunned even by the
most familiar of his former associates ; whilst
she — in spite of her two thousand a year pin-
money, her beauty, and the almost princely
magnificence of the palace in which she
passed her melancholy days, no one who
EVELYN HARCOURT. 275
watched the expression of her countenance,
as lazily reclining in her britzska with her
Italian greyhound by her side, she took her
daily drive around the ring, could imagine for
a moment that rank or riches had succeeded
in making her happy.
Her conduct in society, however, was per-
fectly unexceptionable, and no one, not even
her most intimate acquaintance, (friends she
had really none) ever suspected the bitterness
of the pangs that shot through her proud heart
when she thought of George de Beauvoir —
the only being she had ever really loved, and
who once loved her — nor how truly an object
of envy in her eyes was the tall, graceful, dark-
eyed girl who had usurped the place she for-
merly held in his affections, and whom, occa-
sionally, whilst rolling along in her magni-
ficent equipage, she would see leaning on his
arm, his fond and cherished bride, happy in
the possession of his love, although she had
neither carriage to drive in, nor pin-money,
276 EVELYN HARCOURT.
nor diamonds, and her drawing-room was
about one-third of the size of the house-
keeper's room at Shetland House.
Years passed away thus — years of fierce
contention, of bitter disputes and hopeless
misery to both ; when one summer, during a
solitary excursion abroad, which had been or-
dered for him by his physicians, the Duke,
chancing to pass a couple of days at a small
town in Germany, learnt by mere accident
that Lord Truro was there, rapidly sinking
under the effects of an incurable disease,
brought on by the excesses of all kinds in
which he had so long indulged. His wife
knew nothing whatever of his hopeless condi-
tion, for he had positively refused to let her
be informed of it, obstinately persisting, in
spite of the assurances to the contrary of the
doctor who attended him, that he should
speedily recover. Lady Truro believed him
to be at Paris, and had only a short time
before sent him a sum of money, which had
EVELYN HARCOURT. 277
been forwarded to him from thence, and which,
like all her former remittances, had been
squandered away, partly by his worthless
companion and partly by himself, at play.
Wlien, therefore, she received the Duke's
letter, informing her that her unfortunate hus-
band was no more, the shock was indeed to
her overwhelming. There was not one re-
deeming point, one happy thought, on which
her mind could rest wqth regard to him. He
had died unreforraed ; as far as she could
learn, unrepenting : and fearful indeed is such
a fate !
Yet, Lord Truro had been generous, warm-
hearted, and unselfish once. His natural dis-
positions had all been good ; but no principle
of religion or virtue that could keep them so
or improve them had ever been instilled into
his youthful mind during those years when it
would have been peculiarly calculated to re-
ceive them. His mother had been worldly ;
and lessons of ambition and worldly wisdom
278 EVELYN HARCOURT.
had been all he had ever beard fall from her
lips. Are we wrong in believing that the
early instructions of a mother carry with them
a peculiar weight, and most often bring forth
fruit in after years, though at the time they
may have seemed to produce little effect?....
We think not.
But, melancholy as was the end of Lord
Truro, that of the Duke was more fearful
still. Only a few days had elapsed since he
had followed his friend to the grave, when,
one evening, a little before the hour when his
valet usually attended his dressing, the whole
house was alarmed by the report of a pistol in
his bed-room ; and when they rushed up in a
body, and at length succeeded in bursting
open the door, which he had locked inside, it
was to find their worst fears confirmed, and
his shattered form stretched on the floor with-
out a sign of life !
What led him to the commission of the rash
act at that particular time can never now be
EVELYN HARCOURT. 279
known. His servants had observed that he
had been more than usually melancholy and
abstracted since the day of the funeral, and
possibly the premature and painful death of a
man he had once known so intimately might
have preyed upon his mind, already subject
to a species of morbid depression, and ended
by affecting his reason. That such events
may be, probably always are, the consequence
of a degree of dejection amounting to actual
insanity at the time, there can be little, if any,
doubt ; but one thing is indeed certain, that
men of the world, properly so called, * who
live without God in the world,' whilst it is
smiling around them, and indulge without re-
straint in its pleasures, will find it hard to
turn to Him in the hour of sorrow, when that
dreary and dreadful void — that sinking of the
spirit — comes over them, which, sooner or later,
must follow all undue excitement ; whilst, to
those who seek Him in their youth, using
moderately of the pleasures which He pro-
9S0 EVELYN HARCOURT.
vides, and never abusing them, and who in the
midst of joy and sunshine rememher the end —
to such, although trials may come, and their
spirits may be darkened by gloom and dejection,
yet shall they not be left without hope ; but,
* as their day, so shall their strength be.'
These sad events were not without their
beneficial and softening effects on the minds
of the survivors. The Duchess indeed was
deeply shocked at the news of her husband's
tragical end, and it produced in her something
more of serious and solemn reflection than she
had ever before known. She was not so cold
nor so utterly hardened, as to feel nothing like
sorrow for the melancholy fate of the man
whose name she bore, and whose life she was
sensible she had rendered miserable. Her
conscience — for even she had a conscience —
occasioned her many a bitter pang in after
years ; and her character, under the influence
of this sorrow and this remorse, became to a
certain degree improved. But the habits of
EVELYN HARCOURT. 281
pride and selfishness in which she had so long
indulged were become too inveterate to be
easily broken through ; and though from this
period her conduct was far more guided by
principle and a sense of duty than it had ever
been before, yet she never became either an
amiable or a happy person. Her after life
passed away in dull and melancholy grandeur,
uncheered, unblessed by any of those tender
sympathies, those gentle affections, which, by
leading us out of ourselves, and uniting us
with our kind, ever incalculably increase our
On Lady Truro, the * uses of adversity '
produced a far sweeter and more harmonizing
effect. She spent much of her time in after
life with Sir Aubrey and Lady Harcourt;
with Susan Tyrrell, the sister of the latter,
one who, like her, had been schooled in ad-
versity, and under it had attained a perfection
of character so rare, that even the observation
of it produced a beneficial effect on all who
282 EVELYN HARCOURT.
knew her; with the Sherbornes and Lady
Charles, to whom in particular she ended by-
attaching herself deeply, and whose solitary
life she was the means of cheering by her
affectionate sympathy. With such associates,
her mind lost in time the hard and worldly
tone it had formerly acquired; her objects,
her aim in life became of a higher kind, and
sorrow with her brought forth the fruits it is
ever intended to produce.
But we linger too long on such details.
Let us return to one whose closing life affords
so striking a contrast to the sad and painful
events we have just related ; for her life had
been a constant preparation for its termina-
tion, and death to her seemed but the entrance
to a far happier existence.
EVELYN HARCOURT. 283
The moon is up — by Heaven, a lovely eve !
Long streams of light o'er dancing waves expand.
" Mourn not for me!" the happy Seraph cries,
Exulting ; " Lo, I gain my native skies !
Oh think, when past a few eventful years
Of toil and sorrow, in this vale of tears,
There we shall meet, released from every pain —
There we shall meet — nor ever part again!"
Spirit, rise ! — to thee is given
The light, etherial wing of Heaven.
There was now indeed sorrow at the Priory
— a change for the worse had taken place
within the last few days, and Helen was no
longer able to move without assistance. Still,
as is not uncommon in cases of decline, her
appetite continued surprisingly good, and her
sufferings had not much increased. Dr. Wil-
liams thought she might yet linger on some
284 EVELYN HARCOURT.
time, though much would probably depend
upon the degree of severity of the winter,
which, up to this period, had been most un-
Ah! what a melancholy group was that now
assembled beneath that roof! They moved
with stealthy tread throughout the house —
they spoke in subdued tones — their counte-
nances were sad and anxious — their eyes often
full of tears ; for one inexpressibly beloved
was about to depart from amongst them ; and
they felt that soon they should look upon that
face no more.
But she still strove unceasingly to render
the idea of her death familiar to them — to
accustom their minds to it by imperceptible
degrees. She ever spoke to them of her own
peace in dying, her increasing joy in the
prospect of eternity, as she drew nearer and
nearer to the last solemn barrier — her hope of
beholding them again in regions of light and
glory. And, in these latter moments, her
EVELYN HARCOURT. 285
spirit seemed to have acquired a more power-
ful and sublime energy, a clearer perception
of the divine truths in which she trusted, and
her countenance, wan and wasted as it was, a
more heavenly expression. She was no longer
the reserved and retiring being they had
always known her ; a new life seemed to have
suddenly sprung up in her, a kind of foretaste
of the immortality to which she was rapidly
One beautiful moonlight night, they had
moved her sofa near the window, in order
that she might look out upon the prospect
she loved so well — the smooth lawn — the dark
evergreens — the leafless but picturesque trees
— the distant church spire — the beautiful and
calm river — all lighted up by the exquisite
radiance of an unclouded moon.
" Dear ones !" said she, as they sat grouped
around her, their thoughts, their hearts, their
eyes, all directed towards her, and watching
to catch every feeble word uttered by her
286 EVELYN HAKCOURT.
cherished and failing voice. *^ How pleasant
to see you thus altogether, and how happy
am I in these, my last moments, to be sur-
rounded by all those I love so well; Evelyn,
too, no longer blind ! How different it might
have been ! A little later, and her sight would
have been restored in vain for me — now I
have nothing to wish for, scarcely anything to
regret. Sometimes, indeed, I fancy I wish
the spring were come again !"
'* Ah, how you will enjoy it !" exclaimed
Evelyn, eagerly catching at anything that
looked like a future hope. " How you will
enjoy the fresh flowers, and the songs of our
favourite nightingales ! Do you remember
how we loved to listen to them ? You shall
lie on your sofa, under the shade of the lime-
trees, and I will read to you, and watch over
you, and serve you ! — it is my turn now !"
But Helen laid her thin, transparent hand
upon her arm.
'* I shall never see another spring on earth,"
EVELYN HARCOURT. 287
said she, with something almost of melancholy
in her tone. " Before the violets bloom again,
and the nightingales sing, I shall ' go hence
and be no more seen !' But it is better so —
better to leave the world while all is bare and
desolate around — bearing, as it were, the like-
ness of death, than in the breezy, hopeful
days of spring, full of a joy and loveliness
that might almost make one regret to die.
And as the seed which now lies concealed in
the cold bosom of the earth shall burst forth
afresh and put forth blossoms, so shall my
spirit live again to behold a far more glorious
spring, the commencement of an undying
year ! See," she continued, after a short
pause, and turning to the window, " how
calm, how lovely, how little like a winter's
night ! Ah, I am indeed blessed in all things !
And you — you are all so good to me — so
" Do not talk so," cried Evelyn, reproach-
fully. " It is almost a mockery. What have
288 EVELYN HARCOURT.
we done for you ? whilst you have devoted
your energies, your thoughts, your health, to
our good. Me, above all, what have you not
done for me ? Do I not owe my happiness,
my life, my very reason, under Providence, to
you? Ah, Helen!...."
" Dearest, the little I have done, was done
gladly — and my only grief is that I can never
do anything for you again. But you will not
forget me, any of you, of that I am well
assured; — and you must think of me as I would
have you, not with regret, as one you would
recal, but rather with rejoicing, that I have
found the rest I souo^ht."
As she spoke, her eyes lighted up with an
unusual brilliancy, and she pointed to the sky
with a gesture of indescribable hope and ex-
They were silent — there was not one of
them at that moment who did not look upon
her rather with envy than with sorrow. They
might grieve for themselves, but not for her !
EVELYN HARCOURT. 289
And thus she continued to converse, quietly
and hopefully, at intervals, as they sat around
her gazing at the beautiful night ; and some-
times Evelyn and Arthur would take a turn
together to the adjoining library, and she
would think to herself what a blessing it was
to have him there — and to listen to their
voices, and to see the doting expression of her
eyes as they rested upon him — and to feel
that they were all near her— Lady Charles
too — all she most loved. —
At length the bell sounded for prayers, and
Arthur was proposing that the servants should
assemble in another room, as the noise and
lights would be too much for her, when she
eagerly interrupted him.
" Let them come here," said she; " it will
not fatigue me, indeed — and there need be no
lights, if you will but allow me to say prayers
to them myself. I shall so like it once more ;
— and I shall never be able again ..."
" Oh, Helen !" cried Evelyn, fearing she
VOL. IIL O
290 EVELYN HARCOURT.
knew not what ; '* do not attempt it. It is
more, much more than you are equal to.
Think how weak your voice is — and your
" Ah ! let me try this once," said Helen,
beseechingly; *' I shall never ask again."
" Indulge her, my love !" whispered Lady
Charles in a subdued tone.
She had perceived better than Evelyn how
vain was all care, all precaution, now.
The servants were told that Mrs. Percy
would say prayers to them herself ; — and one
by one they entered with a stealthy footstep
and a beating heart — poor old Mrs. Owen at
their head. All felt it was a kind of parting.
Helen perceived that they were affected at
the sight of her, and she spoke kindly to them.
'* I was anxious to bid you all good bye
whilst I yet could," said she ; " for I have
received good offices from all of you ; and
from some far more — affectionate regard, and
long and faithful duty. Let us pray together!
EVELYN HARCOURT. 291
It may be — probably it will be — the last time
my voice will be raised with yours in suppli-
cation to Heaven, bat we can in no better
way take leave of each other than by joining
once more in this act of devotion, which we
have so often before performed together."
The burst of emotion with which these
words were received at first somewhat over-
powered her; — but she soon recovered, and
joining her hands, in a voice which, though
feeble, w^as wonderfully clear, repeated one of
the most beautiful prayers of our church, whilst
all knelt silently and reverently near.
It was a touching and most impressive
scene. The light of the moon shone full into
that chamber upon the figures of those kneel-
ing with bowed heads around — and upon the
shadowy form of the dying Helen ; — and as
she raised her eyes towards Heaven, her fea-
tures, illumined by its rays, assumed an almost
celestial expression. And such was the hush
— the perfect stillness of that chamber, broken
292 EVELYN HARCOURT.
only by occasional faint sobs whicb could not
be restrained, that the feeble accents of her
voice sounded clearly in every part, and not a
vrord was lost.
" Oh, my Father !" said she, at length, by
a strong effort slightly raising herself; " bless
all these thy servants, now assembled before
thee, and bring them in the end to Thyself!
Teach them to choose that better part which
shall never be taken away from them, and
grant that we may all meet again in thy glo-
rious Kingdom hereafter ! Support me in my
dying moments ; and, if it be Thy will, let
my memory serve for good — that some may
be encouraged to seek thee, and find peace !
Bless those I love with an especial blessing —
bless all "
There was a pause — a faint sigh — she fell
Her spirit had winged its flight
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